COA confirms five new rabies cases

BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY;:A COA director said mass vaccination of humans was not necessary, but the center will continue to import more human vaccine

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Jul 29, 2013 - Page 1

The Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday confirmed five more Formosan ferret-badgers have been found to be infected with rabies, bringing the total to 11 confirmed cases nationwide.

The five infected ferret-badgers were found in Nantou County’s Kuohsing (國姓) and Renai (仁愛) townships, Greater Taichung’s Sinshe District (新社), Greater Tainan’s Nanhua Township (南化) and Greater Kaohsiung’s Tianliao District (田寮).

Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Director Chang Su-san (張淑賢) said that as of yesterday, 46 wild animals have been examined by the council’s Animal Health Research Institute.

Responding to questions about a nine-year-old girl bitten on the toe by a ferret-badger while she was visiting relatives in Renai on Saturday, Chang said she was sent to the hospital for an emergency rabies shot and the animal is now being tested.

As for the house shrew found to be infected with the rabies-like lyssavirus, reported on Saturday, Chang said DNA sequencing to determine which genotype of lyssavirus it carried could be completed by tomorrow.

The bureau estimates that there are 1.5 million domestic cats and dogs in Taiwan. With an annual rabies vaccine inoculation rate of about 40 percent, about another 900,000 vaccine doses will be needed. With about 100,000 doses of vaccine already stored for emergency use, and 230,000 on the market, the bureau plans to import at least 300,000 vaccine doses next month.

It said 58,000 free rabies shots have already been released for use in mountainous areas where the confirmed cases to date were found. It hopes the emergency prevention measures will contain the situation.

Centers of Diseases Control (CDC) Director-General Chang Feng-yee (張峰義) said a cross-ministerial meeting on rabies control decided to offer about 300 free rabies vaccinations as a preventive measure to front-line wild animal control workers and dog catchers in areas with confirmed cases as a priority, starting from today.

The center is also making up lists according to infection risks for further preventive rabies vaccinations, with wild animal control workers and dog catchers in other areas second in terms of priority for vaccinations, workers at animal shelters or rescue centers third, and workers at veterinary clinics fourth.

Chang said that mass vaccination was unnecessary, but the center will continue to import more human vaccine.

The CDC said 1,840 emergency vaccine doses have been imported, while another 17,500 are scheduled to arrive by the middle of next month.