History of Rabies Control in Taiwan and China

Chen-Hsuan Liu

2013 Vol.29 NO.133

  • 1.Graduate Institute of Molecular and Comparative Pathology, School of Veterinary Medicine, National Taiwan University
  • 2.Animal Cancer Research Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, National Taiwan University
  • 3.National Taiwan University Veterinary Hospital


       Rabies is one of the top ten causes of death from infectious diseases in the world; it is also an ancient global zoonosis. The first case of rabies was recorded in 2300 BC. In China, the earliest report of rabies was recorded in “Zhuo Zhuan”, written during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period in 556 BC. China has the second highest number of rabies deaths in the world, just behind India, with 90% of the deaths occurring in farmers, students, and children. Most deaths are caused by dogs, followed by cats and other animals. Rabies virus isolated from humans and animals are all of genotype 1. Rabies caused 782 deaths in Taiwan during 1948 - 1959. In 2002, 2012, and 2013, there was an imported human rabies case each year. In 1956, Taiwan began rabies control by vaccinating dogs. Along with the control of domestic and stray dogs, rabies was successfully eradicated in 1961. However, in July 2013, following the detection of rabies in ferret-badgers, a house shrew and a dog also tested positive for rabies virus. On August 1, 2013, the Rabies Control Central Epidemic Command Center was established. Through inter-ministerial collaboration, increased health education, vaccination of dogs and cats, and the use of pre- and post- exposure prophylaxis in humans, there have been no human infections reported. The response phase is now largely completed. Follow up actions are also being planned. History has shown that as long as the people are united in disease prevention, rabies may become a historic term in Taiwan once again.