The document of the month
Document of the month: September 2016
"World Rabies Day, 28 September 2016: Educate. Vaccinate. Eliminate."
The bat man.
Dr Malaga-Alba, Peruvian veterinarian expert from the Pan-American Sanitary Bureau (WHO Regional Office for the Americas) was probably better acquainted with the vampire bat than any other man in the Western Hemisphere. He handled as many as five thousand bats in a single day while looking for signs of disease. He and his wife captured vampires in seventeen countries from Argentina to Mexico, their extreme range. He studied their feeding habits, their paths of migration, their sexual patterns, their roles in the religions of the Aztecs and the Mayas.
In the course of his cave crawling and bat-handling for WHO, Dr Malaga-Alba developed a theory that the common bat, as well as the vampire bat, might well become rabid. Research in the US confirmed this supposition. The Pan American Sanitary Bureau, which had been collecting information about the distribution and migration of bats since 1949, started work on an illustrated bat atlas which would aid in predicting the possible spread of rabies from infected areas.
Meanwhile, Dr Malaga-Alba continued his bat hunt. Here he shows a nursing vampire bat, with a young bat slung from its neck by the hind legs.
WHO photo by Eric Schwab. Mexico, 1958.