CDC expands human rabies vaccine program


TAIPEI–Anyone in Taiwan who was bitten by a Formosan ferret-badger in the period May 2012 to July 31 this year is now eligible to be vaccinated against rabies in an inoculation program launched by The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), its director-general Chang Feng-yee said Saturday.

The decision to include people who may have been exposed to the virus as far back as 15 months ago is a form of risk management, Chang said, adding that there is no likelihood the incubation period of the virus would have changed from the established one to three months.

In recent weeks, Taiwan has confirmed 35 cases of rabies, all which were Formosan ferret-badgers, except for one Asian house shrew.

But Chang said the first confirmed indigenous infection of a ferret-badger was recorded as far back as May 2012, therefore, the CDC’s “Ensuring Safety” vaccination program has been adjusted to cover people who may have been bitten back then.

Initially, the CDC had decided to vaccinate people who may have exposed to the virus from Aug.1 last year.

The procedure is to call the hotline 1922 or 080-000-1922 to report the bite incidents, after which a special CDC team will evaluate the case and recommend whether the person should get a rabies shot, the CDC said.

The incidence of people falling ill after exposure to the rabies virus is 30 percent to 40 percent, according to Chang.

The 35 animal rabies cases in Taiwan have been spread over the central and southern Taiwan areas of Nantou County, Taitung County, Taichung, Yunlin County, Tainan and Kaohsiung.