Peruvian health officials stated on Wednesday that at least seven indigenous children have died in Peru from rabies.
The children died between April and May, in a remote community of Camana, in the forest of Cusco, southeast Peru.
The disease was transmitted to the children, between 11 and 14 years old, when they were bitten by vampire rats infected with rabies. The bats feed off blood, usually from animals, but are said to turn to humans particularly when their natural habitats have been destroyed.
Ana María Navarro, the co-ordinator of the National Health of Zoonoses for the Ministry of Health said: “The symptoms and medical reports showed that the seven indigenous children died from an outbreak of rabies in wild animals.”
The expert dismissed claims that the sudden deaths of the children had been caused by contaminated water in rivers in the region. She also assured that, at this point, no other similar cases of rabies had been identified in the area.
To prevent any further cases of the disease, emergency rabies vaccinations have been sent to the Camana area, where around 700 indigenous people live.
While in many countries, rabies has been wiped out, the disease is endemic in forest regions of Peru. In 2000, around twenty were killed after being infected with the disease, while in 2011 6 children died. Rabies is almost always fatal, and causes swelling to the brain.