Rabies check on rabbits after family bitten in Thailand

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is conducting random checks at pet shops out of concern for a possible outbreak of rabies among the seemingly harmless pets.

The concerns have been growing after infected rabbits recently came down with rabies at a Bangkok home and bit their owners.

According to the Thai Red Cross Society's Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, more than 400,000 people across the country seek treatment for rabies each year, mostly because of cat or dog bites.

"We are investigating the source of the rabies infection in the rabbit," Deputy Bangkok Governor Malinee Sukvejvorakij said yesterday.

She said the infected rabbits had bitten five people.

Siriporn Pummarin and her family had suffered from the rabbit bites. Yesterday, they called on the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute to ask for further advice.

"We have received anti-rabies vaccinations but we have still developed low fevers. We are

worried," she said. She said she could not understand how the rabbit kept at home could have been infected by rabies.

The institute's veterinarian Channarong Mitmoontak said that after the vaccination, Siriporn and her family members would certainly face no fatal threat.

The institute's assistant director, Dr Teerapong Tantawichien, advised bitten pet owners to clean their wounds immediately with soap and head for a doctor.

"Now, rabies vaccines are available at all medical facilities," he said.

Livestock Development Department veterinarian Pranee Panichpong said it remained unclear what caused the rabies infection in the rabbit. There is a possibility the disease might have been spread from rabbits it was raised with or from a rat in the house. "In collaboration with the BMA, we will check whether other rats in the area are infected with rabies," she said.

Her advice to the public is that they should vaccinate their pets against rabies.

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