Rabies returns to Taiwan

This is a pretty big story. With all the stray dogs in Taiwan, I suspect rabies will spread quite quickly. Just as disturbing is that it appears the government (Council of Agriculture) has been hiding from the public the fact that rabies has been back for more than a year. What were they going to do? Wait until a person died of rabies before letting us know it was back? That’s a bit like the fire department knowing a building is on fire, but not pulling the alarm until someone smells smoke.

Story found at http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/national/national-news/2013/07/17/383947/Rabies-resurfaces.htm.

Rabies resurfaces in Taiwan for 1st time in 50 years: expert

TAIPEI–Rabies, a fatal disease that affects animals and humans, which is caused by a neurotropic virus, was recently detected in the remains of wild Formosan ferret-badgers, a veterinary research team confirmed yesterday.

This means rabies has reappeared in Taiwan for the first time in 50 years, said Victor Fei Pang, a professor at the School of Veterinary Medicine of National Taiwan University, during a meeting convened by the Council of Agriculture.

The meeting was held after Shih Wen-yi, former deputy director-general of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), said in a Facebook post on Monday that the COA might have been concealing information from the public about the return of rabies for more than a year.

Rabies is a zoonotic disease, which means it is transmittable from animals to humans, Shih told reporters on Tuesday. Rabies has the highest case fatality rate of any conventional infectious disease, approaching 100 percent, he said.

The COA convened the meeting of experts one year after the disease reappeared in Taiwan and has not yet informed the CDC of the matter, Shih said, adding that three of the samples taken from six Formosan ferret-badgers at the NTU’s School of Veterinary Medicine have tested positive for rabies.

Meanwhile, the three cases of rabies were confirmed during the meeting — two in dead Formosan ferret-badgers in Gukeng, Yunlin County, in November 2012 and one in Yuchi, Nantou County, in December 2012. Another Formosan ferret-badger that was sent by an amusement center in Nantou to NTU’s School of Veterinary Medicine in May 2012 also tested positive for rabies, according to Pang.

Also on Tuesday, Susan Chang, director general of the COA’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, said that the bureau has prepared 12,000 doses of anti-rabies vaccine to be given free of cost to domestic animals in the mountainous areas of Yunlin and Nantou.

Chang said the bureau has stockpiled 100,000 doses of the vaccine and plans to import 80,000 more in late August, while veterinary medicine manufacturers have stockpiled 230,000 doses and plan to import 200,000 more.

The bureau said it will report the cases to the World Organization for Animal Health. Currently, Japan is the only rabies-free country in Asia, it added.

Meanwhile, only 10 countries and regions around the world are free from rabies: United Kingdom, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Japan, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, and Guam.

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