As of this week, a total of 131 ferret-badgers, one Asian house shrew and a puppy bitten by a ferret-badger have tested positive for rabies infection, the Central Epidemic Command Center reported yesterday, adding that the number of cities and counties that have confirmed cases of rabid animals remained unchanged at nine.
A total of 556 wild carnivores, 273 wildlife animals of other types, 714 dogs, 49 cats and 42 bats have been tested as of Tuesday, and the main species found infected with the disease remains the wild Formosan ferret-badger, the center said.
The authority also reported a case in Taitung in which a man was attacked by a ferret-badger on Sunday.
The man was bitten on his right index finger and right ankle. He received a post-exposure rabies vaccine on Tuesday when he sought medical attention, and subsequently received human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) on the same day at another facility, Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said.
The man was scheduled to receive the second dose of vaccine yesterday.
The ferret-badger that caused the injury was sent for testing on Tuesday and was confirmed of infection on Wednesday night, bringing the total number of infected ferret-badgers to 132.
Meanwhile, the first rabies infection in a dog, confirmed last week, has stirred another round of debate on whether animal experiments on dogs are to be conducted.
The Council of Agriculture said that it would “definitely” conduct animal experimentation.
“Experimentation on animals still has to be conducted because the virus strain found in the Formosan ferret-badgers is already an idiosyncratic branch,” the council’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Director Chang Su-san (張淑賢) said, adding that the infectivity of the virus in both ferret-badgers and dogs has to be assessed.
However, Tunghai University life science professor Lin Liang-kong’s (林良恭) suggested the opposite.
He said that following the news about the rabies-infected puppy, a group of researchers have been considering the possibility, based on studies and observation, that bats are the reservoir host of the rabies virus, while ferret-badgers are just the victims.
There is no need for testing on dogs, Lin said, adding that healthy ferret-badgers should be captured to see whether they are infected with rabies.
Lin said ferret-badgers would be proven “innocent” — as in not being the reservoir host of the virus — if found with no virus.
Bats belonging to genera Eptesicus and Myotis have been confirmed in the US to be the reservoir host, or carrying rabies virus without exhibiting symptoms, according to Lin.
“Bats of both genera can be found in Taiwan. There are seven species of Myotis bats in the country,” Lin said.
The bats living in forests or flying around can easily elude surveillance and their numbers are difficult to estimate. It is possible that the virus had spread to ferret-badgers through the food chain, Lin said.
“If a bat, weakened by the virus, falls to the ground, and its body is then eaten by a ferret-badger, the latter would be running around with the virus and spreading it among its population,” Lin said.
As the genetic sequence has shown that the virus strain found in Taiwan has evolved independently for more than 50 years it is reasonable to assume that it did not evolve with ferret-badgers, which did not exhibit symptoms or infect dogs until very recently, Lin added.
It shows that ferret-badgers might be the victims, rather than the reservoir host that has been carrying the virus for more than 50 years, Lin said.
DIPLOMATIC MOVES: Beijing is reportedly pressing the state after reports of forming links with Taiwan, while the ministry is also planning to reopen its office in Guam soon A representative office is set to open in Somaliland at the end of this month, at the earliest, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday amid reports that Beijing is sending a diplomatic delegation to the east African country. The ministry on July 1 announced that Taiwan and Somaliland would establish representative offices, following a report by the Somaliland Chronicle Web site. It said at the time that the two nations did not plan to establish formal ties. Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi has instructed close confidants to explore the possibility of “mutual recognition between Taiwan and Somaliland,” the Somaliland Chronicle reported
‘IMMORAL, INSINCERE’: Huang Kun-huei said that Ma was ‘distorting history’ in claiming that Lee Teng-hui laid the foundation for the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ Former Presidential Office secretary-general Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) on Saturday rejected former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) claim that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had been a proponent of Beijing’s “one China” principle. Lee, who served as president from 1988 to 2000, died in Taipei on Thursday last week. After visiting the Taipei Guest House on Saturday to pay his respects to Lee, Ma posted on Facebook that “28 years ago on this day” Lee hosted a session of the now-defunct National Unification Council, during which he passed a resolution on the “one China” principle. That resolution became the basis of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s
A Belgian man who tested positive for COVID-19 in Taiwan last week is likely to have contracted the disease in Taipei in late June, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health vice dean Tony Chen (陳秀熙) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Saturday reported that the man, who is in his 20s, came to Taiwan for work on May 3 and tested positive on Wednesday last week as he was about to depart. The man in March reported loss of taste and smell, the center said, adding that he worked in Changhua County, but visited Taipei several times,
NEW ERA: Taiwan, which has controlled its virus outbreak, now faces the challenge of safely resuming economic exchanges with other nations, Chang Shan-chwen said People should not focus entirely on having zero new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taiwan, but neglect overall control over the disease situation, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) specialist advisory panel convener Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) said yesterday. Chang made the remark at a forum in Taipei discussing the steps Taiwan should take in the post-pandemic era, organized by the Chinese-language magazine Global Views Monthly. Chang, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩), and Stanford University’s Center for Policy, Outcomes and Prevention director C. Jason Wang (王智弘) each made a presentation, followed by a panel discussion with Chang, Wang and Buddhist Tzu