Are they superhumans? Or just genetically blessed? American scientists studying remote communities in the Peruvian Amazon ravaged by vampire bats have found the first evidence of humans immune to rabies.
The team from the US government's Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that six of 63 people tested had rabies anti-bodies in their blood, without ever having been vaccinated for the disease. The 63 were part of a larger sample group of 92, 50 of whom reported having been bitten by bats.
It remains unclear whether the six were born with the anti-bodies or developed them after being infected with rabies and surviving despite the lack of medical facilities in villages rarely visited by doctors.
Either way, the discovery, revealed in this month's American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, turns on its head the traditional notion that without immediate treatment, exposure to rabies means a certain hideous death.
Amy Gilbert, the lead researcher, said that death was still the nearly inevitable fate for anyone developing rabies symptoms, even with the best medical care. However, the new research indicates that some people exposed to the disease may never develop those symptoms.
"These are very small villages and, when they witness 10 people dying from what is a horrible disease, it is incredibly traumatic," said Ms Gilbert. "We want to help raise awareness of the problem and try to develop a more proactive response."
The CDC discovery is now expected to pave the way for pioneering research to develop both new kinds of vaccinations and treatment for rabies. That could even involve genome sequencing.
Mr and Mrs Smith star admits she's 'never been comfortable on-screen'
Singer was ordered not to 'blow her rape whistle' in song 'Vegas'
Co-creator Mark Gatiss dropped some very intriguing hints ahead of the BBC drama's return next year
It is a crazy place to play in summer, writes Paul Scholes
It was all about Liz’s cocaine-fuelled brainwave, 'The Metwork'
- 1 Lee Evans announces his retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
- 2 John Smid: Former leader of US ‘gay cure’ group has just married a man
- 3 These grandmas smoking weed for the first time are wonderful
- 4 Pastafarian former porn star Asia Lemmon allowed to wear colander in driving licence photo
- 5 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
Duchess of Alba dead: Billionaire Spanish duchess who lived life by her own rules, dies at 88
Jeff Fletcher dead: Britpop guitarist is decapitated by lorry in horrific traffic accident
These grandmas smoking weed for the first time are wonderful
New York snowstorm: Five dead and state of emergency declared as 'wall of snow' buries Buffalo
Mike Nichols dead: The Graduate director dies suddenly following cardiac arrest
'Muslims pre-date Columbus in discovering America,' says Turkish president Erdogan
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Former Tory PM Sir John Major says 'we would not have an NHS without migrants'
G20 summit: David Cameron warns Vladimir Putin that Russia's relationship with the West is at a 'fork in the road' over Ukraine
Myleene Klass: Ed Miliband 'strikes back' by comparing UK's need for Labour's mansion tax to Hear'Say track
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£18000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has bec...
£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A prestigious IT & Telecoms Sales and Su...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits : Argyll Scott International: Senior Perl...