Taiwan has stepped up efforts to prevent an invasion of rabies as an epidemic of the disease has become increasingly serious in neighboring countries, the Council of Agriculture said in a statement yesterday.
Taiwan and Japan are among the few Asian countries that are free of rabies, a deadly viral infection that is mainly spread by infected animals.
As the number of rabies cases reported in China, South Korea and Southeast Asian countries has increased in recent years, the statement said, the National Institute for Animal Health invited foreign experts to a roundtable meeting in Taipei late last year to discuss feasible measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
Experts from the US, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and China agreed to forge technological cooperation in lab examination, monitoring and research in rabies prevention, the statement said.
“Experts from home and abroad also agreed to promote the establishment of an Asia-Pacific regional rabies prevention mechanism to facilitate information exchanges and monitoring of the epidemic,” the statement said.
In view of the frequent civilian exchanges between Taiwan and its Asian neighbors and possible animal and merchandise smuggling following the opening of direct transport links across the Taiwan Strait, the council said it has greatly increased the number of samples that are subject to rabies testing since 2008.
The council said it has included bats on its list of items subject to rabies monitoring, out of concerns the animal might help spread the disease to Taiwan.