An additional 13 rabies infections in Formosan ferret-badgers were confirmed on Friday, the Central Command Epidemic Center said yesterday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases of animal rabies to 36, of which 35 were ferret-badgers.
The 13 new cases were reported in Greater Taichung’s Dali District (大里); Nantou County’s Yuchi (魚池) and Xinyi (信義) townships; Chiayi County’s Alishan (阿里山), Zhuqi (竹崎) and Fanlu (番路) townships; Greater Tainan’s Liujia (六甲), Nanhua (南化) and Nanxi (楠西) districts; Greater Kaohsiung’s Qishan District (旗山), with two cases; and Taitung County’s Donghe Township (東河), also with two cases.
The number of known rabies-affected cities and counties now stands at seven, with Chiayi County, yesterday becoming the seventh affected area in the nation.
The other six are Greater Taichung, Nantou County, Yulin County, Greater Tainan, Greater Kaohsiung and Taitung County.
Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Director Chang Su-san (張淑賢) also reported that as of Friday, 90 wildlife carnivores have been tested for rabies this year, and no infection was found outside of the 35 ferret-badgers.
Other kinds of animals that have been tested negative for rabies in the past few days include cats, dogs, squirrels, bats, mice and Asian house shrews.
When asked the reason for the sudden increase in the number of confirmed cases of rabies infection, Chang said that until last Friday, the Council of Agriculture’s (COA) Animal Health Research Institute, the testing center in charge of rabies testing in the country, had not been using a rapid test kit, but the standardized diagnostic test in compliance with World Organisation for Animal Health standards for confirmation.
“We had to make sure that the rapid test kit gave us the right result, as false positives were possible. So until last Friday, we had been comparing the test results coming out from the two types of test to ensure the accuracy of the rapid test kit,” Chang said.
Centers for Disease Control Director Chang Feng-yee (張峰義) added that it is no longer surprising to have new confirmed cases of rabies infection in ferret-badgers, stressing that the increase in the number of infected ferret-badgers was “foreseeable.”
“What is high on the agenda is to have people protected from rabies infection by limiting contact with the ferret-badgers. We ask the public to have absolutely no contact whatsoever with the animal,” he said.