Thu, Aug 30, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Dogs help prevent rabid ferret-badger attacks: scientists

By Wu Hsin-tian  /  Staff reporter

People who do not keep dogs at home are 10 times more likely to be attacked by rabid ferret-badgers than those who have dogs as pets, a National Taiwan University study found.

The study, titled “Human Exposure to Ferret Badger Rabies in Taiwan,” was conducted by a team led by School of Veterinary Medicine professor Fei Chang-young (費昌勇) and was published in the June edition of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

While rabies was observed in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial era, the nation in 1961 announced that it had been entirely eliminated, the Council of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine said.

However, since an outbreak in July 2013, rabies had as of June spread to 81 townships, with 654 recorded ferret-badger infections, 215 cases of infected ferret-badgers attacking humans and 51 injuries, bureau data showed.

Using the logistic regression model to analyze the distribution of cases, Fei’s team found a positive correlation between the number of infected ferret-badgers and their attacks on humans.

However, the researchers found that the number of infected ferret-badgers and the number of human injuries did not necessarily correlate, leading them to study other variables such as population density, the altitude of areas where people had been attacked and whether those people kept dogs.

People who have watchdogs, especially larger ones, could avoid attacks by infected ferret-badgers, whose entry would be detected and prevented by dogs, Fei said.

People who do not have dogs are 10 times more likely to be attacked by infected ferret-badgers, he said.

A similar correlation was not found among other variables, he said.

The spread of rabies in Taiwan is mostly limited to ferret-badgers, because they rarely attack larger animals such as macaques, sika deer and large dogs, he added.

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