Bitten by a Bat, 5

real vampire-bat

The real blood-sucking (or blood-lapping) vampire bats, are found in the Americas. The common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) feeds solely on blood, a trait known as ‘haematophagy’. (Compare this with Renfield’s so-called ‘zoophagy’.) These bats are quite small, even cute-looking, but rabies is still a possibility.

For a dental note: it is the two sharp front teeth which open up the blood vessel, then the long tongue takes over. Note that in the ‘Dracula’ novel and most movies it is the canine teeth that cause the damage but Count Orlok in ‘Nosferatu’ has teeth like this, as do rats.

 

Bitten by a Bat, 3.

Daubenton reset
Daubenton Bat

Rabies can be caused by a bite from a British bat, the Daubenton. It is caused by the European Bat Lyssavirus – EBLV, which was first found in a bat in Florida in 1953. While in the UK there has only been one case of human rabies acquired from a native bat, in 2002, this was fatal. An infected bat was found as recently as October 2019.

In humans symptoms of the disease include:

  • anxiety, headaches and fever in the early stages
  • spasms of the swallowing muscles making it difficult or impossible to drink (hence ‘hydrophobia’)
  • breathing difficulties.

Post-exposure treatment (PET) using rabies vaccine with or without human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG) is highly effective in preventing disease if given correctly and promptly after exposure. For  advice see: www.gov.uk/government/publications/rabies

While Count Dracula seems to have had mild hydrophobia, his swallowing seems to have remained intact.