Taitung County township reports first rabies case; officials ‘concerned’
Animal disease control officials in Taitung County, eastern Taiwan, have expressed concern that rabies might have spread after the township of Taimali ( ) reported its first rabies case.
After an outbreak of rabies in the eastern county in 2013 — the first resurfacing of the disease in Taiwan since 1961 — only townships in the mountains or on the coast first reported cases, after which the disease spread to Taitung City and surrounding valleys.
Wu Tze-he ( ), director of Taitung's Animal Disease Control Center, said that apart from Taitung County's offshore islands, all townships that have sent samples for examination have confirmed rabies cases.
So far, only two townships — Tawu ( ) and Chinfeng ( )— have not sent specimens, but Wu suspected that the disease could have made its way into them, too.
Since July 2013, Taitung has reported 222 rabies cases, involving ferret-badgers (218 cases), masked palm civets (two cases), house shrews (one case), and a puppy that was bitten by a ferretbadger.
Taitung is the most seriously infected area in terms of rabies in Taiwan.
In view of the latest case, the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine of the Council of Agriculture called on the public Saturday to get their dogs and cats vaccinated against rabies to ensure the safety of both animals and humans.
Statistics compiled by the bureau show that from 2013 to Aug. 13 this year, it had tested 1,556 animal specimens countrywide, and among them, 482 ferret-badgers, five masked palm civets, one household shrew and one puppy had tested positive.
he bureau said that 70 townships in nine counties and cities in Taiwan have reported rabies cases. The disease so far has been confined mainly to wild ferretbadgers, with only a few cases involving masked palm civets.