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September 11, 2013

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Taiwan renews its rabies warning

Taiwanese health authorities have renewed a call for owners to inoculate their pets after confirming a case of rabies in a dog.

The island is struggling with its first outbreak of the disease in decades.

The 45-day-old puppy developed symptoms last Friday after it was attacked by a ferret-badger in Haituan, a remote township in south-eastern Taitung county.

A total of 124 ferret-badgers and a shrew have been found with the disease since May last year, the first outbreak since 1959.

Taiwan is now listed as a rabies-affected area by the Paris-headquartered World Organization for Animal Health.

Yesterday’s case prompted authorities to renew their call for the owners of domestic pets to have their animals inoculated. 

“There is no need for the pet owners to panic, but they have to make sure their dogs and cats get a shot of vaccine against the disease,” said Edward Chao, spokesman for the island’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine.

As of now, about 60 percent of the estimated 1.5 million pets on the island have been vaccinated against rabies, he said.

Only 10 countries and regions in the world are listed as rabies-free.

Some 55,000 people die of the disease worldwide every year.

Symptoms in humans include seizures, partial paralysis, fever and brain inflammation, or encephalitis.

There is no known treatment that can cure rabies once the infection has taken hold.



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