Thursday, 24 April 2014

Rabies rise reversed in China

by Michael Woodhead
The resurgence in rabies in China that started in the 1990s is slowly being curbed, but the infection still causes more than a thousand deaths a year, a new report shows.
After a peak of almost 3500 cases in 2007, the incidence of rabies in China has since declined by about 50%, with around 1500 reported cases in 2012, according to a study from the State Key Laboratory for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing.
Most of the cases of rabies were caused by dogs and occurred in rural areas in the south west of China. In most cases of rabies infection the disease was fatal because few people received post-exposure prophylaxis treatment, the authors of the report noted. They said there was complacency and lack of awareness about rabies in China as the disease was thought to be under control and few hospitals or clinics stocked vaccine or were aware of the need to monitor for the disease.
The study found there had been almost 20,000 cases of rabies since 2005, mostly in provinces such as Yunnan, Guangxi, Guizhou, Guangdong, Hunan and Sichuan. However, while authorities had managed to curb the re-emergence in rabies with new control programs in those provinces there were signs that the disease was spreading to northern and western provinces, including Beijing.
Writing in BMC Infectious Diseases, the researchers said rabies was on the increase because of the increasing ownership of dogs and domestic animals in China.
They said there was a need for greater rabies control efforts, including inoculation of domestic animals such as dogs in high risk areas.

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