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Gov't orders compulsory rabies shots for dogs
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Chinese authorities have ordered all dogs to receive a mandatory inoculation against rabies as the country fights a rising number of human rabies cases, the ministries of health and agriculture said in a circular on Friday.

By the end of November, China reported 3,010 rabies cases compared with 3,279 in 2006, 2,537 in 2005, and 2,651 in 2004 during the same period, the Ministry of Health figures showed.

Between 2004 and 2006, rabies claimed 8,403 people, accounting for 30.1 percent of the total deaths from infectious disease in the same time period.

"With the increasing number and density of dogs in some cities and rural areas, less than 10 percent were vaccinated against rabies," the circular said.

Statistics show Beijing alone has more than 703,800 registered dogs. The number is likely larger when including those that are unregistered.

Given the "extremely serious" situation, the ministries have ordered the strengthening of vaccination work and the compulsory vaccination of all dogs.

All inoculated dogs must be given uniformed certificates and wear relevant emblems, according to the circular.

The compulsory vaccination order was backed by the newly-amended law on animal epidemic prevention that took effect on Jan. 1. It asked all animal owners to comply with compulsory vaccination policies.

The revised law sets up a compulsory animal vaccination system, requiring immunization of animals against diseases harmful to people's health and the husbandry industry.

It made clear that animals stated in the law "include pets" and all stipulations on animal immunization in the law were "fit for pets".

Rabies is an acute viral infection that is nearly always fatal if left untreated. It can be transmitted by the bite of an infected animal, usually a dog. It kills about 50,000 globally each year.

(Xinhua News Agency January 19, 2008)

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