Right Off the Bat

Vampire bat rabies is a lethal problem for humans and livestock in Latin America. A current—but unsuccessful—method of controlling outbreaks is culling with poisonous gel that bats spread during social grooming. What might work: vaccinating bats using the same technique.

Researchers at the University of Michigan used a trackable flourescent gel to simulate spread and found the vaccine would protect 2.6 bats for every bat vaccinated. Mathematical models verified subsequent reductions in outbreaks. 

“Hopefully this is just the first step in evaluating spreadable vaccines to control disease transmission across a multitude of pathogens and hosts,” says researcher Kevin Bakker. 


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