Rabies transmitted by common vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) has been known since the early 1900s but continues to expand geographically and in the range of species and environments affected. In this review, we present current knowledge of the epidemiology and management of rabies in D. rotundus and argue that it can be reasonably considered an emerging public health threat. We identify knowledge gaps related to the landscape determinants of the bat reservoir, reduction in bites on humans and livestock, and social barriers to prevention. We discuss how new technologies including autonomously-spreading vaccines and reproductive suppressants targeting bats might manage both rabies and undesirable growth of D. rotundus populations. Finally, we highlight widespread under-reporting of human and animal mortality and the scarcity of studies that quantify the efficacy of control measures such as bat culling. Collaborations between researchers and managers will be crucial to implement the next generation of rabies management in Latin America.
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