A ferret that was killed after biting three people in Miaoli tested negative for rabies, an animal health official said yesterday.
Lee Shu-hui (李淑慧), a section chief at the Council of Agriculture’s Animal Health Research Institute, said it was not yet known how the animal came into contact with the people it attacked or why it bit them.
The three were bitten on Friday last week, but the case was not reported to local animal authorities until yesterday.
More dead animals were also found in the central and southeastern counties of Nantou and Taitung yesterday. Both counties had reported confirmed rabies infections in Formosan ferret-badgers over the past several days.
A Formosan ferret-badger was found run over on a road in Singchang Village (興昌) in Taitung County’s Donghe Township (東河) earlier yesterday. Local residents said they had noticed a change in the behavior of the animals, which are nocturnal and not normally out in the daytime.
Amis Aborigines living in the area said that more than 10 of the animals had been found dead in the nearby area in recent days.
Also yesterday, a farmer found a dead dog by the side of the road in Nantou’s Yuchih Township (魚池), but the institute has not received the body for testing yet.
Animals suspected of being infected with rabies that are found within eight hours of death are sent to the institute for examination, officials said.
Late on Wednesday, a masked palm civet attacked a pet dog in Donghe Township. Staff from the Taitung County Government’s Agricultural Department took the dog away for vaccination and monitoring.
Meanwhile, a farmer in Sinchang Village who was bitten by a rabies-infected Formosan ferret-badger on Monday evening reported flu-like symptoms yesterday.
Huang Li-min (黃立民), a pediatrician at National Taiwan University Hospital, said the symptoms were unlikely to have been caused by rabies as the incubation period for the disease is at least two weeks.
Officials urged the public to avoid wild animals, as rabies-infected animals have now been found in the mountainous regions of several counties, a sign that the disease might be spreading.
The government on July 17 informed the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) of three confirmed cases of rabies in wild Formosan ferret-badgers, ending the nation’s 52-year status as free of domestic rabies.
The council’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine has started to vaccinate animals in Yunlin County’s Gukeng (古坑) and Nantou County’s Yuchi (魚池) and Lugu (鹿谷), three areas where rabies has been found in badgers.
The bureau has also set up animal vaccination stations in mountainous areas in Taitung County, New Taipei City (新北市), Taipei and Taoyuan County.