The Thai Journal of Veterinary Medicine


The World Health Organization declared Taiwan rabies-free in 1961. On July 17, 2013, Taiwan confirmed the detection of rabies virus in wild Formosan ferret-badgers.This study investigated the epidemiology of Formosan ferret-badger rabies from July 2013 to December 2019 on Taiwan Main Island. There were two objectives of this study: 1) to study thetemporal dynamics of the epidemics during this period; 2) to assess the risk of human exposure to ferret-badger rabies. Results indicated that atotal of 805 rabies-confirmed ferret-badgers and 9 cases of spillover infection in non-reservoir hosts. The temporal dynamics showed only the epidemic in Eastern Taiwan exhibited the typical initial epidemic growth pattern; while the epidemics in Western Taiwan and Southern Taiwan appeared to have subsided to enzootic levels as of December 2019. As for human exposure to ferret-badger rabies, all cases of human exposure at home appeared in only one ferret badger and usually occurred in the evening. During the exposures, if a dog were present, it would usually spot the rabid ferret-badger earlier than the attack of the rabid ferret-badger and rush to kill it. There were 48cases indoors and 21 cases outdoors of human exposure. Therelative risk (RR)for human exposure to rabid ferret-badgers without dogs around was 4.73 times that with dogs around indoors (n=214; p< 0.0001). Therisk for human exposure to rabid ferret-badgers without dogs around was 12.63 times that with dogs around outdoors (n=62; p< 0.05). In conclusion, the study showed that keeping dogs could protect people from suddenly unprovoked attacks by rabid ferret-badgers. The distribution of epidemic cases indicated that ferret-badger rabies was stillsequestered to the mountainous regions. Dogs and cats should be vaccinated to establish an immunological barrier to stop the spread of the disease.


Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University

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