News of the WeekPUBLIC HEALTH

Bat Researchers Dispute Rabies Policy

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Science  31 Mar 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5462, pp. 2391-2392
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5462.2391b

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Based on some puzzling human rabies deaths, public health officials, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, recommend that in some circumstances people exposed to bats get rabies shots, even if there's no evidence of a bite. Bat researchers counter that the animals don't attack and leave stealth bites and that the policy sparks unwarranted fear of bats, and they will be releasing a statement next week to address what they see as bad science and bad press on the issue. Federal health officials, however, are unapologetic for what they see as a cautious stance concerning a frightening if rare disease.