China: Rabies Kills 312 People in Guangxi

From: ProMED Digest V2003 #435
Source: Xinhuanet, Tue 11 Nov 2003 [edited]

Rabies has killed 312 people in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in the
south from January to September 2003, a 152.9 percent rise over the total
rabies cases in 2002, according to the Regional Department of Health. The
figures show the impact of the growing number of pets in the country, which
has long been ravaged by infectious diseases. Local medical experts blamed
the public's weak awareness of the need for vigilance and the low canine
vaccination rate as the major causes of the [high number of cases of the]
deadly infection.

"The increase in pet ownership in Guangxi's urban and rural areas was the
major cause of the rapid rise in rabies cases," said Yang Jinye, deputy
director of Guangxi Diseases Prevention and Control Center. Stray dogs in
the rural areas also add to the risk of people getting bitten, according to
the official. There are currently some 6.2 million dogs in Guangxi, of
which less than 20 percent have been immunized against the rabies virus, he

A serious, fatal disease that can be transmitted by dogs, cats, livestock
and certain wild animals and birds, rabies infects and kills thousands of
people every year in China. Rabies, called "mad dog disease," has become
the most dangerous infectious killer in the country, easily surpassing
diseases like SARS , pulmonary tuberculosis, AIDS, and anthrax. The
ministry's statistics show only 854 deaths from rabies were reported in
2001, and the figure rose rapidly to 1003 in 2002. Some feared the toll
might continue to rise this year, since rabies outbreaks had ravaged
provinces like Guangdong, Hainan, Hunan, and Jiangsu this summer.

China has loosened restrictions on pets as more and more people in the
nation began to raise dogs as pets or guards. Beijing's dog lovers could
have restrictions on their pets relaxed and registration fees lowered after
a new regulation approved by the municipal government on 5 Sep 2003.
Registration fees of 5000 yuan (US $604) in the first year and 2000 yuan
(US $241.93) a year thereafter have been lowered to 1000 yuan (US $120.96)
and 500 yuan (US $60.48).

- --

[Along with the increase in pet ownership and the reduction in the pet
registration fee, compulsory canine vaccination in Beijing and other large
urban centres should be given priority in order to achieve an immediate
reduction in the appallingly high human death toll from rabies virus
infection throughout China. - ProMED-mail moderator]

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