13 provinces are 'rabies red zones'
Virus kills 3 people, infects 247 animals in two months
Thirteen provinces have been declared "rabies red zones" after the deadly disease recently spread to several parts of the country, resulting in three deaths over the past two months.
Cheerasak Pipatpongsopon, deputy director-general of the Department of Livestock Development, said Monday the 13 provinces were Surin, Chon Buri, Sumut Prakan, Chachoengsao, Nan, Buri Ram, Ubon Ratchathaini, Chiang Rai, Rot Et, Songkhla, Rayong, Tak and Sri Sa Ket.
The department also announced rabies-prone areas in 42 other provinces.
According to the Department of Disease Control (DDC), three people have died from rabies while 247 domestic animals have been infected with the deadly virus since January.
The number of rabid animals has increased 1.5 times compared to last year.
Dogs were found to have contracted rabies most frequently while the disease was also found in cats and cows.
Dr Cheerasak said major causes of the rabies widespread were recklessness of pet owners who failed to have their pets vaccinated against the deadly virus.
They also let their pets roam free which increased the risk that they would be bitten by rabid animals.
He said the pubic also lacked awareness of the dangers of the disease and often do not get vaccinated after being bitten or scratched by animals.
Dr Cheerasak urged pet owners to bring their pets in for a rabies vaccine as quickly as possible to help prevent the disease.
The department also aims to declare rabies-free areas in 20 provinces, he said.
Monchanok Khongpan, chief of the Mae Sot District Livestock Office in Tak, said the office has urged residents who live in a 5km radius of Mae Sot Hospital to take pets for a vaccine at the office and Mae Sot District Office.
The announcement came after it was reported to the office that a dog died of rabies on the hospital premises. The office also tried to catch around 10 stray dogs near the hospital to test whether they are infected.
The DDC also instructed its 12 Disease Control Offices and the Institute for Urban Disease Control and Prevention to make the public more aware of the dangers of rabies.
Rabies in pets can been noticed from three symptoms which last about 10 days in total.
Animals will be irritable, have dilated pupils and seclude themselves from their owners during the first two to three days.
They then become aggressive and drool before reaching the final stage of paralysis and death.