Four more wild Formosan ferret-badgers have tested positive for rabies, bringing the number of confirmed animal cases in the nation to 53 since the first three were reported in the middle of last month, health authorities said yesterday.
The latest badgers were found in Nantou and Chiayi counties and Greater Taichung, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center for Rabies.
All but one of the 53 cases were Formosan ferret-badgers, the other was an Asian house shrew, the center said, and came from 31 mountain townships in eight counties and cities in central, southern and eastern areas.
More than 90,000 animals, mainly in rabies-affected areas, have been vaccinated against the disease since last month, the command center said.
Health officials have approved rabies vaccinations for 1,029 people who have been bitten or scratched by animals. In 20 cases, human rabies immune globulin vaccinations were required, with 17 of them having already received the shots.
The disease had not been seen in Taiwan for more than half a century until several dead Formosan ferret-badgers were found to be infected last month.
Earlier this week, the Council of Agriculture said an analysis of the virus strains in the rabid animals suggests that the disease had been lurking in mountainous areas for years.
It said yesterday that based on existing information, rabies infections are so far limited to Formosan ferret-badgers in areas south of the Daan River in Miaoli County.
The government will collect animal carcasses from animal shelters, first-aid stations and veterinary clinics for testing to make sure the disease has not spread to other species, the council said.
Experts from the US are scheduled to arrive in Taiwan today to study the rabies situation, the council added.