Bureau warns public not to touch wild animals

  • By Chen Qingyu and Jake Chung/Staff Reporter, with staff writer and CNA

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Bureau last week warned the public not to touch wild animals after the Veterinary Research Institute discovered lyssavirus type 2 in a Chinese nocturnal bat that flew into a residence in Jonghe District (中和) last month.

Although the lyssa virus is not defined as a contagious disease in Taiwan, it is still dangerous because it is transmissible to humans, the office said.

The office said there are 17 types of lyssavirus, including rabies, adding that the second type lyssavirus is not related to rabies and is similar to the lyssavirus found in Chinese Noctule bats in 2018.

Bureau warns public not to touch wild animals

Image provided by the Centers for Disease and Control

It said it had found lyssavirus type 1 on four Japanese houseboats between 2016 and 2022.

The office said bats are natural hosts for Lyssavirus. If people see bats on the road, they should not touch them, but should instead alert their local animal quarantine office or other bat conservation groups.

Lyssavirus is transmitted neurologically and the public should avoid situations that put them at risk of being bitten, said Deputy Director-General of the Bureau Hsu Jung-bin (徐榮彬).

He added that if they are bitten, they should visit the hospital immediately and request to be vaccinated with the rabies vaccine.

Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) spokesman Tseng Shuhui (曾淑慧) said the person who found the bat was not bitten, and after evaluation, the CDC deemed he was not in danger.

Zeng urged members of the public not to touch or handle wild animals, and if they are pet owners, to take their pets to a veterinarian for an annual rabies vaccine.

If members of the public are scratched or bitten by wild animals, they should clean the wound with soap and large amounts of fresh water for 15 minutes and sterilize the wound with hydrogen peroxide or 70 percent alcohol, she said.

After the wound is disinfected, they should visit a hospital or local health center to receive the rabies vaccine.

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