Beginning August 25, 2013, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) for rabies loosens restrictions on the use of government-funded human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) for rabies cases bitten by ferret-badgers. Initially, only ferret-badger bite cases that involved category III contact, which includes single or multiple transdermal bites or scratches, licks on broken skin; contamination of mucous membrane with saliva from licks, with the suspected rabid animal were approved for the use of HRIG.. In light of the fact that the risk of rabies infection is elevated in people bitten by ferret-badgers, to further ensure the health and safety of people, CECC has decided to loosen the restrictions on the use of government-funded HRIG and include ferret-badger bite cases that involved category II contact, which includes nibbling of uncovered skin, minor scratches or abrasions without bleeding, licks on broken skin, for the use of HRIG..
Previously, only ferret-badger bite cases that involved category III contact, which includes single or multiple transdermal bites or scratches, licks on broken skin; contamination of mucous membrane with saliva from licks, with the suspected rabid animal were approved for the use of HRIG. and ferret-badger bite cases that involved category II contact, which includes nibbling of uncovered skin, minor scratches or abrasions without bleeding, licks on broken skin, were approved only for the use of government-funded rabies vaccine.
According to the animal rabies surveillance data collected by the Council of Agriculture, thus far, all rabies cases in Taiwan have been confirmed in ferret-badgers with one exception in a house shrew in Taitung County. In addition, the rabies surveillance among other carnivorous animals, including stray cats and dogs, has not identified the virus in these animals.
Between July 21 and August 23, 2013, a total of 42 ferret-badger bite cases applying for rabies vaccine received were approved. Of the applications, 13 cases involved category II contact, including one exposed to a rabid ferret-badger was approved for the use of HRIG.
CECC once again reminds the public to not touch, hunt, capture, feed and keep wild animals as well as not abandon their pets and ensure their pets are properly vaccinated in a timely manner. When bitten or scratched by animals, please remember to take the following 4 steps: 1.Remember: Try to remain calm and remember the characteristics of the biting animal; 2. Wash: Immediately wash the wound with soap and an ample amount of clean water for 15 minutes and then disinfect the wound with iodine or 70% alcohol; 3. Seek: Seek prompt medical attention for proper evaluation and treatment to reduce the risk of infection; and 4. Observe: Try to detain the biting animal for a 10-day observation if possible. However, do not risk capturing the animal if it gets violent. In addition, when necessary, please remember to complete the full course of post-exposure rabies vaccination that consists of five doses of the vaccine given on days 0, 3, 7, 14, and 28. For more information on rabies prevention, please visit the Taiwan CDC’s website at http://www.cdc.gov.tw or call the toll-free Communicable Disease Reporting and Care Hotline, 1922, or 0800-001922 if calling from a cell phone. For more information on outbreaks of animal diseases, please visit the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ)’s website at http://www.baphiq.gov.tw or call the Council of Agriculture’s hotline, 0800-761-590.