Government Response to the Discovery of a Rabies Virus Reservoir Species on a Previously Designated Rabies-Free Island, Taiwan, 1999–2014

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Abstract

Summary

Taiwan had been considered rabies free since 1961. In 2013, Taiwan confirmed the detection of rabies virus in wild Taiwan ferret-badgers. Up to December 2014, there have been 423 rabies-confirmed ferret-badgers and three cases of spillover infection into non-reservoir hosts. Genetic analysis indicates that TFBV is distinct from all other known rabies virus variants. To date, ferret-badger rabies is known to occur only in China and Taiwan. The temporal dynamics of rabid ferret-badgers in Taiwan suggests that the epizootic appears to have subsided to enzootic levels as of December 2014. According to the current epidemiologic data, there is only one TFBV strain in Taiwan. TFBV is still sequestered to the mountainous regions. Humans are at risk mainly through exposure to the virus from infected domestic meso-carnivores, mainly dogs and cats. Dogs and cats should be vaccinated to establish an immunological barrier to stop the spread of the disease from mountainous regions to domestic meso-carnivores.

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