Ferret Badger Attacks Prompt Taiwan to Order More Rabies Vaccine

Taiwan is stocking up on rabies vaccines after a 31 year-old man and a 9 year-old girl were bitten by ferret badgers infected with the disease.

The government has ordered an additional 820,000 doses of animal vaccines to boost supplies to 1.13 million by the end of this month, according a statement from the island’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine. Neither the man nor the girl were infected as a result of the bites.

The appearance of rabies last month in Taiwan, which had been free of the disease for 50 years, has been widely covered by the island’s television stations and newspapers. Premier Jiang Yi-huah announced today that the island would be upgrading its rabies task force into a command center as confirmed cases in animals spread to six counties and cities.

Rabies was first detected in the remains of three wild Formosan ferret badgers, the Council of Agriculture announced on July 17. An Asian house shrew and 21 ferret badgers were confirmed to be infected at the end of July, all of which were found in mountain areas, according to the council. The vaccines purchased by Taiwan are for domestic animals.

Taiwan hasn’t had a human rabies infection since 1959 and hadn’t had an animal case since 1961, Liu Shih-hao, public relations director at the island’s Centers for Disease Control, said by telephone.

Ferret badgers are primarily nocturnal animals weighing 1-3 kilograms, according to the website of the University of Michigan’s Museum of Zoology. They are omnivores that subsist on insects and fruit.

The island can be declared rabies-free again following two consecutive years without a single new case, according to the government.

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