June 15, 2017 - While vampire bats have no presence in the United States yet, their ability to carry the rabies virus and cross borders, and their presence in Mexico, makes them a threat to U.S. cattle and other domestic productive species, including sheep, horses, pigs, dogs, cats, and wildlife. Damage to livestock potentially can run into the millions of dollars.
Evidence that vampire bats are moving north and will eventually enter the United States calls for close collaboration between American authorities and their Mexican counterparts to counter the potential threat. As part of these efforts, from March 20th to 24th, 2017, staff from International Services (IS)’s Mexico City office coordinated the attendance of specialists from APHIS Wildlife Services (WS) in Arizona and Mexico City, the University of Arizona, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Colorado at a workshop in Campeche, Mexico organized by the Mexico’s agricultural and food safety agencies, SENASICA (National Agro-Alimentary Health, Safety and Quality) and SAGARPA (State Agency of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food).
During this event, the visitors learned about the importance and impact of the campaign against paralytic rabies transmitted by vampire bats to cattle and other domesticanimals, including goats, sheep, horses, and pigs. A technical meeting was also held to review the status of the vampire bat rabies problem in Mexico’s Campeche state, as well as the physical and behavioral characteristics of the vampire bats and the management activities developed in Mexico to reduce their impact in the animal and public health.
The participants visited two caves, which are the bats’ natural refuge, and conducted two field activities to trap and treat vampire bats in corrals. All the goals for this training were reached according with the agenda and all participants agreed that this kind of training is very useful for the APHIS field staff that could be responsible for controlling this problem and ensuring the safeguarding and security of U.S. agricultural resources in the future in the United States.