Rabies has killed eight people and left two people suspected of being infected in hospital in Shaanxi Province since March, the local government said Monday.
The outbreak of rabies has spread to 11 counties in Hanzhong City since March, where 5,523 people were injured by dogs, said Qin Mingxian, director with the city's agricultural bureau.
The first death occurred on March 21, and the two people suspected of being infected were being treated in a county-level hospital, he said at a press conference.
The city, with more than 370,000 registered dogs, reported 35 deaths of the disease from 1985 to 1992.
The outbreak was spreading at unprecedented speed, said Qin.
The city carried out a rabies prevention campaign from May 23 to June 1, implementing door-to-door compulsory vaccinations of dogs and urging dog owners to put their pets on a leash or keep them off the streets.
So far, more than 240,000 pet dogs had been vaccinated.
Human deaths indicated the rabies virus was very active, posing a great public health threat, said Shi Ruihua, chief of the bureau's stock breeding department.
The city authorities would work out measures to improve administration of pet dogs, he said.
(Xinhua News Agency June 2, 2009)