Fri, Aug 02, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Visitors stream to Taipei Zoo despite rabies outbreak

Staff Writer, with CNA

Taipei Zoo has not seen a drop in visitor numbers despite the outbreak of rabies across the nation, zoo officials said yesterday, adding that they have stepped up outbreak control measures to ensure visitors’ safety.

The zoo usually sees about 15,000 to 18,000 visitors during holidays, a number which has remained largely consistent even after the deadly disease was found spreading through wild animal populations last month, zoo spokesman Chao Ming-chieh (趙明杰) said.

Taiwan reported three confirmed cases of rabies infection to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on July 17, ending its 52-year rabies-free status.

As of yesterday, Taiwan had 22 confirmed cases of rabies, comprised of 21 Formosan ferret-badgers and one Asian house shrew.

All carnivorous animals in the zoo have been vaccinated against rabies, Chao said, adding that there is no chance that the animals can come in direct contact with visitors.

Chao said that the zoo has enhanced its control measures, including increased inspections to prevent wild animals and pets from entering the zoo.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Food and Health Bureau Secretary Ko Wing-man (高永文) said the Hong Kong government is very concerned about the recent reports of rabies cases in Taiwan.

Ko said his bureau is monitoring developments very closely.

Radio Television Hong Kong quoted Ko as saying that there have been no rabies cases reported in Hong Kong for nearly 30 years.

He further said that Hong Kong has a comprehensive rabies prevention and control system in place.

As Taiwan and Hong Kong are near each other and maintain close exchanges, each tends to pay close attention to disease outbreaks in the other.

When severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and H5N1 avian flu outbreaks were reported in Hong Kong in the past, Taiwan also heightened its alert.

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