Behind the scenes with National Geographic Television


Getting the Shot
Missing the Shot
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Follow the National Geographic team deep into the caves of Nicaragua, home to thousands of vampire bats.
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Kevin: In Nicaragua there was recently a case of a four-year-old girl who died of rabies from a vampire bat bite. We found her family living in a one-street town in a cinderblock house. The parents have nine other children.

Months before this girl died, her family had been crossing a river late in the evening. They looked over and saw a bat biting their daughter’s foot. They shooed the bat away, cleaned the cut, and thought that was the end of it.

Eight months later the girl started feeling sick and couldn’t swallow. The family took her to a clinic nearby, and all the clinic did was treat her for parasites and send her home. It wasn’t until the family finally took her to a hospital in Managua that rabies was diagnosed. Two days later she was dead.

Rakhi: From the way they were describing it, it’s initially really tough to see the symptoms. By the time you find out, it’s often too late.

We asked to see a photograph of the girl, but they didn’t have anything except this little frock of hers and a pair of shoes. The mother said these were all she had left, because the hospital didn’t give her back the body.

The family is too poor even to go back and find out where the girl is buried. You’ve got to wonder, are they going to remember her face five years down the line?

Note: According to Bat Conservation International, “Dogs attack and kill more humans annually than die from bat rabies in a decade. Statistically speaking, pets, playground equipment, and sports are far more dangerous than bats.”

© 2000 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved.

Photo of Anabel's shoes held by her mother

Photo of a MAGFOR agent holding a dead bat

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