Since being scratched or bitten by a rabid ferret-badger can pose a great risk of infection to the recipient, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday loosened restrictions on the administration of human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) for those who have had Category 2 contact with infected animals.
Category 2 exposure includes nibbles on uncovered skin, minor scratches or abrasions without bleeding and licks on broken skin.
The current rules stipulate that only those who have had Category 3 contact with ferret-badgers, Asian house shrews (limited to Taitung City) and other animals that have exhibited abnormal behavior require both post-exposure rabies vaccine shots and HRIG, while Category 2 contact qualifies a person to receive a government-subsidized vaccine, but not HRIG, the center said.
Category 3 contact is classified as single or multiple bites or scratches that cause damages to the dermal layer, as well as the contamination of broken skin or mucous membrane with saliva from licking.
According to data provided by the Council of Agriculture, the recent rabies outbreak has been contained to Formosan ferret-badgers, with only one confirmed case found in an Asian house shrew found in Taitung City, the center said.
It added that further surveillance of other carnivores, including stray dogs and cats, has not found any other species of animals to have been infected with the virus.
The center on Saturday said that with the supporting effort of local animal disease prevention agencies, all schools’ dogs and cats were vaccinated as of last Friday to ensure the safety of students as the new school year is about to start.
As of Friday, of the 436 wild carnivores tested for rabies, 100 ferret-badgers have been found to be infected, the center said.
The virus has been detected in 45 townships across nine cities and counties, including: Nantou, Taitung, Yunlin, Chiayi and Pingtung counties, as well as Greater Taichung, Greater Tainan and Greater Kaohsiung.