Thailand speeds up rabies vaccination as 13 provinces declared rabies red zones
BANGKOK - Many parts of Thailand are declaring wars against rabies after 13 provinces around the country have been announced rabies red zones, local media reported Saturday.
Provinces in the northeast, east, north and south have been speeding up vaccination as well as transferring stray dogs and cats with suspected rabies infection to sanctuaries.
Thai prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has urged related bodies to produce sufficient medicines and vaccines.
The department of disease control announced in early March that rabies has claimed three lives in Thailand in the past two months. It also announced rabies-prone areas in 42 other provinces.
The number of infected animals around Thailand has surpassed 250 since January, doubling from last year, local media reported.
Data from the department shows that more than 50 percent of infected animals have owners, the majority of which did not have vaccination records or only had vague records. The department has recorded nearly 40,000 dog bites around the country since this January.
Suvannachai, director of the department, attributed the increase of rabies infections to the government's winding down of vaccination around Thailand during the past two years, adding that pet owners' negligence in vaccinating their pets also lead to the surge of infection.
Thai people tend to let their pets roam free, which increases the risk that they could be bitten by rabid animals, said the department.
Rabies is a deadly virus spread to people from the saliva of infected animals. The rabies virus is usually transmitted through a bite. It can be controlled in animals through the rabies vaccination.