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Mortality rate for rabies among cases reported in Africa and Asia nears 100%; Public urged to get rabies shots prior to visiting high-risk areas

Human rabies deaths have been frequently reported in Africa and Asia. According to statistics, approximately 55,000 people die of rabies infection globally each year with the vast majority occurring in African and Asian countries. Among Asian countries, China and India report the highest numbers of deaths from rabies, exceeding 30,000 deaths each year. Once symptoms develop, rabies is invariably 100% fatal. Take a case recently reported in India for example. On May 14, 2011, the case was hospitalized due to suspected rabies infection. On May 15, 2011, the case died. The hospital reported a cumulative total of three rabies deaths within a week. Between 2008 and May 13, 2011, a cumulative total of 147 human rabies deaths were reported in Bali, Indonesia. With the summer vacation fast approaching, the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (Taiwan CDC) reminds people who plan to travel to rabies-affected areas to visit Travel Clinics 1 month prior to their trip for the physician to assess their need for pre-exposure rabies vaccination. To prevent rabies infection while visiting rabies-affected areas, avoid bites and scratches by warm-blooded animal such as cats, dogs and monkeys. Individuals bitten by a warm-blooded animal should immediately wash the wound with soap and running water for fifteen minutes before using 70% alcohol or povidone iodine solution to disinfect the wound site. Afterwards, they should promptly visit a hospital for further wound cleaning and treatment as well as post-exposure rabies vaccination. Upon arriving in Taiwan, travelers with suspected symptoms are advised to voluntarily report to the fever screening station at ports and airport. Quarantine officers at the station will take necessary measures and provide relevant health information and education. For more information, please visit the Taiwan CDC’s website: http://www.cdc.gov.tw/english/index.aspx or call the toll-free Communicable Disease Reporting and Consultation Hotline, 1922. Source:Centers for Disease Control, R.O.C.(Taiwan)