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.

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