In 2010, researchers in China discovered with rabies viruses taken from ferret-badgers that several isolation strains were of low pathogenicity or had no toxicity at all. Lab rats were injected in their brains with large amounts of the virus, but they did not develop the disease.
The council has yet to provide any data to establish whether the nature or pathogenicity of the virus found in Taiwan’s ferret-badger population means that it will harm dogs, cats or people, let alone to clarify the efficacy of vaccinating dogs and cats against it.
According to the Central Epidemic Command Center, there will be plenty of vaccines available by late this month, with 1.13 million for dogs and cats and 47,000 for humans. Fortunately, the pathogenicity of the ferret-badger virus in Taiwan for dogs, cats and people is very low or non-existent.
Are the vaccines being provided at the state’s expense to prevent “genuine” rabies useful against the ferret-badger virus? My feeling is that these are just vaccinations being administered to give peace of mind.
Liou Pei-pai is a former director of the Taiwan Animal Health Research Institute.
Translated by Paul Cooper