A retrospective study conducted by the Council of Agriculture (COA) shows that the rabies virus has been present in Taiwan for at least three years, as five of the 13 Formosan ferret-badger samples preserved since July 2010 have recently been tested and found to be positive for rabies, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday.
A total of 17 ferret-badgers preserved by the council’s Endemic Species Research Institute had been sent for testing, four of which lacked enough brain tissue to be tested.
However, five of the remaining 13 samples were tested using the fluorescent antibody test and reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction for a retrospective test, and were found to contain rabies antibodies and nucleic acids, the agency said.
The center said that of the 13 samples, the oldest dated back to July 17, 2010, and was collected in Nantou County’s Guosing Township (國姓).
The results have indirectly confirmed that this strain of rabies is not new to Taiwan, the center said, adding that it will report its latest findings to the World Organization for Animal Health.
Four of the five positive samples were from Nantou County and one was from Chiayi County, which are among the nine rabies-affected regions where rabies-infected ferret-badgers have been found earlier this year, director of the council’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Chang Su-san (張淑賢) said.
“The preserved samples collected from other counties such as Taoyuan County have tested negative for rabies. These results match our expectations,” Chang added.
Although the latest tests found that rabies has been in the country for at least three years, the surveillance of the disease in other animals such as dogs, cats and bats in the past three years has not detected cross-species transmission of the virus, the center said.