Friday, August 12, 2011

Vampire bat bite claims life of teen aged farmworker

The Center for Disease Control today announced that a 19 year old farmworker died from human rabies, contracted from the bite of a vampire bat. His is the first death from a vampire bat recorded in the United States. The worker sustained the bat bite in Mexico in July 2010 and developed symptoms in the United States while working as a field laborer on a sugar cane plantation in Lousiana. He died August 21, 2010; however, the CDC only today disclosed the case.

This death of a teen-aged agricultural worker is another opportunity to remember that farm work is literally one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States.
from the National Center for Farmworker Health:

While farmworkers face workplace hazards similar to those found in other industrial settings, such as working with heavy machinery and hard physical labor, they also face unique occupational hazards including pesticide exposure, skin disorders, infectious diseases, lung problems, hearing and vision disorders, and strained muscles and bones. Lack of access to quality medical care makes these risks even greater for the three million migrant and seasonal farmworkers who work in the fields every year.

Hanna Kendall (center) and Jade Garza (right) were killed in a Monsanto corn field last month.
(Photo contributed to the Quad City Times.)
While the bat bite did not occur on the plantation, two Illinois 14 year old girls died in a corn field while detasseling for Monsanto last month. The teens were shocked electrically from contact with a center pivot irrigation system.

Because of an exception in the federal child labor law, children can work for hire in agriculture at far younger ages, for far longer hours, and in far more hazardous conditions than other working children. Most are Hispanic and poor; many start working at ages 11 or 12.

While the Twilight Saga of vampires and love enthralls contemporary teens and the young-at-heart, there is another shadowy tale of danger that is all-too-real for a different segment of North America: the agriculture work of child and teen laborers. And now the bite of a vampire bat has felled one of them.


One Fly said...

I never detasseled but a lot did. it was brutal doing that job. But no one died. There was no irrigation.

Billie Greenwood said...

If listing "most dangerous jobs," most people would not put farm work at the top. It belongs there.

I've known about detasseling and heard the stories. Their job was "a killer," and now we see that it can be literally a killer. The danger of farmwork maybe strikes closer to home to some of us when the face is a young Caucasian girl from Illinois. But, since being on the border, I know many Latino farmworkers. All their life-expectancies are shorter because of their work.

One Fly said...

It's safer now than what it was meaning mostly the equipment. That is because of guvmint. I do not have a problem with hard work but there are prices to pay. I hate accidents like this and it seems like this could have been prevented.