Rabies vaccine supplies run low as infections creep up

Rabies vaccine supplies run low as infections creep up

A veterinarian prepares a rabies shot for a pet. Supplies of the vaccine are running low in Thailand as reports and fears of active rabies continue to rise. (Creative Commons)
A veterinarian prepares a rabies shot for a pet. Supplies of the vaccine are running low in Thailand as reports and fears of active rabies continue to rise. (Creative Commons)

More cases of rabies infections in dogs have been found in Buri Ram and Nakhon Ratchasima, while vaccine supplies are reportedly running low.

Another two infected animal cases were reported in Buri Ram, with authorities racing against time to vaccinate tens of thousands of strays in the northeastern province.

The latest two cases brought the number of dogs and cats found infected with rabies to eight in the province.

The eight were found in Muang, Satuk, Na Pho, Phlapphlachai, Pa Kham, Na Pho and Non Dindaeng districts, which were declared "red zones", or high-risk rabies areas.

A red zone means stringent measures will be enforced to prevent further outbreaks.

Livestock officials are vaccinating dogs and cats within a 5-kilometre radius of where an infected animal is found, according to authorities.

Of about 216,000 dogs and cats -- both pets and strays -- in the province, about 189,000 have been vaccinated, while local administrative officers are purchasing vaccines to be used on the rest, they said.

The vaccine is now running low because scores of people brought in pets to be vaccinated following the outbreak and the deaths of several people as a result of the disease, officials said.

Potpirat Neamjui, head of the Department of Livestock Development's (DLD) Buri Ram office, said it is estimated the dog and cat population had increased by more than 30,000 this year.

With people flocking to take their pets for vaccination, the vaccine supplies from the DLD are not enough, he said, adding a remaining 2,000 doses need to be reserved for emergencies -- in case an infection is found (not for prevention).

All dogs and cats in the province are likely to be vaccinated by May after new supplies of the vaccine are purchased by local administrative organisations.

In Nakhon Ratchasima, seven villages in Khong district were declared temporary epidemic zones after two dogs were found infected with rabies.

This brought the number of impacted districts to nine. They cover Muang, Bua Lai, Sida, Kham Sakae Saeng, Kham Thale So, Ban Luam, Soeng Sang, Non Sung and Chakkarat districts.

A person in Soeng Sang district meanwhile died of a rabies-like illness, according to officials.

Nakhon Ratchasima governor Wichian Chantaranothai said there are 400,000 dogs and 120,000 cats in the province.

Local administrative officials are speeding up efforts to buy vaccines, which should be given to all pet dogs and cats by next month, he noted.

In Trat, Boonyakrit Pinprasong, head of the DLD's Trat office, said the province administrative organisation is buying more vaccine as more than 20,000 animals have yet to be vaccinated. So far the province has not been hit by the disease.


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