BANGKOK: Thailand is stepping up rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats across the country, as it tries to contain an outbreak that has killed four people this year.
A total of 37 provinces have been declared temporary rabies epidemic zones, including popular tourist areas Chiang Rai and Bangkok.
Rabies is an infectious viral disease that is almost always fatal when transmitted from infected animals to humans.
Thai authorities aim to vaccinate 10 million dogs and cats by September, reported the Bangkok Post on Thursday (Mar 15). The outbreak remains "under control", said the Department of Livestock Development.
Since Jan 1, there have been 388 confirmed cases of rabies, more than double the number during the same period last year, said Apai Sutti, general-director of the department.
The main cause of the outbreak this year is due to a "lapse" in the immunisation of animals, reported The Nation, as local authorities were confused about who was responsible for the vaccinations back in 2015.
This reportedly led to a fall in the number of dogs and cats being immunised.
"This year we have more than enough vaccine to deter the rabies infection," said Apai in a news conference on Wednesday.
"Normally only around 7 million to 8 million doses of rabies vaccine are registered in the country each year and we have already trained 37,000 local volunteers how to vaccinate animals.”