Amid growing concern over the recent spate of animal rabies cases, the Taipei City Government’s Animal Protection Office yesterday said that it has dispatched six patrol vehicles to perform daily inspections of parks and vacant areas populated by stray dogs, and will offer free rabies vaccines to pet owners in the city’s mountainous areas.
Animal Protection Office Director Yen I-feng (嚴ㄧ峰) said the patrols will also inspect places where residents report seeing large numbers of stray dogs and will capture any animal that is exhibiting symptoms of the virus or has attacked a person.
He said the office will hold a meeting with private animal shelters this week to enhance anti-rabies efforts and public awareness.
Since rabies has been found in wild animals in mountainous areas, the office will work with Taipei Veterinary Medical Association to inoculate pets in parts of Beitou (北投), Shilin (士林), Wenshan (文山), Neihu (內湖) and Nankang (南港) districts.
Yen also urged pet owners in urban areas to get their pets vaccinated. There are 232 animal hospitals around the city that provide rabies shots for NT$200.
“Taking your pet to get vaccinated once a year and avoiding touching wild animals significantly reduces the chance of being infected with rabies. The public should not panic about contracting the virus,” he said.
The Council of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine on Saturday said that six recently confirmed cases of animal rabies were found in wild Formosan ferret-badgers, bringing the total number to 11 as of yesterday.
The council said that another case of suspected rabies has been listed after a house shrew tested positive for the rabies-like lyssavirus.
The government is stepping up efforts to vaccinate stray animals in Nantou, Yunlin and Taitung counties, where the cases were reported.