Emergency teams have been dispatched to a remote section of the Amazon rainforest to stop rabid bats from spreading their deadly disease. Four children of the Awajun tribe have already died in an outbreak.
The BBC reports that the bats, which usually target animals, may have moved on to drink human blood because of deforestation. The creatures struck in Urakusa, Peru, near the border with Ecuador. The Awajun apparently asked for help when children began dying mysteriously. Government officials in of Peru say that about 500 people have now been vaccinated against rabies.
According to Wikipedia, the bats weigh only 40 grams but can drink 20 grams of blood at one time. They attack while their prey sleeps, using infrared sensors to locate the perfect place to bite. If there is hair or fur blocking the skin, they use specially adapted teeth to shave it away. They even have an anti-coagulant in their saliva that ensures the blood does not clot, and that they can lap it from the wound without waking their unwitting victim.
It is not the first time the bats have killed humans in recent years. In 2004, more than 300 people were bitten and 13 died in Brazil -- at a time health officials in that country said the bats were becoming more aggressive to human beings because their habitat was being eroded. They reportedly struck again in 2005, when officials confirmed that 23 people had died and more than 1,000 had been bitten.