Rabies claimed 276 lives on the Chinese mainland in July, more than one third of the total deaths of infectious diseases last month, the Ministry of Health reported on Monday.
Rabies has stayed atop the list of fatal infectious diseases in China for more than a year, claiming 1,551 lives in the first seven months of this year, said the ministry's monthly epidemic report.
About 50,000 people around the world die of rabies each year.
As an acute viral infection that is always fatal if left untreated, rabies can be transmitted by the bite of an infected animal, usually a dog.
On the whole, the ministry reported 818 deaths in more than 542,000 cases of infectious diseases of various kinds on the Chinese mainland in July, 25,000 more than the same month last year, according to the ministry.
Major killer diseases were rabies, tuberculosis, AIDS, hepatitis B and epidemic encephalitis B, accounting for over 92 percent of total fatalities.
Infectious diseases are classified into three categories by China's law on the prevention of communicable diseases. Compulsory reporting applies to 27 of these diseases.
(Xinhua News Agency August 14, 2007)