The human death toll from rabies in Thailand has soared to 17 so far this year – 54 percent higher than last year – as poor quality vaccines and a vaccine shortage have hampered efforts to curb the incurable disease.

Dr. Thiravat Hemachudha, head of the Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Center at Chulalong-korn University’s Faculty of Medicine, said that efforts to control the disease this year have been ineffective.

The number of rabies fatalities so far this year has already exceeded the 11 total cases from all of 2017, he noted.

“After the news about major rabies outbreaks earlier this year faded from public attention, many people thought that the problem was solved but many parts of Thailand are still ravaged by rabies outbreaks and the number of preventable deaths from rabies is continuing to rise.”

He said that though the number of samples from suspected dogs and cats that are found to be “rabies-positive” continued to decrease, this is not proof that rabies infection rates have lowered.

There are many potentially infected animals out there that have not been tested for rabies, he said.

Rabies control is also being obstructed by problems with vaccinations. Many local administrative organizations do not have sufficient quantities of standardized vaccines to immunize the local dog and cat population, resulting in efforts to stop the outbreak taking longer or even failing. “I have been informed by many officers in local administrative organizations that as of now, they have not received the new 10 million lots of imported rabies vaccines that Livestock Development had promised to distribute to the entire nation earlier this year. They were forced to use old vaccines to immunize local dogs and cats,” Thiravat said.


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