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Beijing Continues to Control Rabies
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Five people have died in Beijing from rabies as of August 21 this year, while close to 70,000 people in the capital have reported being bitten by dogs in the first half of the year, according to local health authorities on Wednesday.

Only one of the five people who died in Beijing contracted rabies in the city. The four others came down with the disease in other places in the country and were brought to the capital for treatment prior to their death. The man who contracted the fatal disease in Beijing was not a permanent resident. He raised pigs and is believed to have been infected by a dog that he had brought from his hometown in the countryside, according to the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau.

Everyone who reported being bitten by a dog in Beijing was inoculated against rabies and none of them developed the disease, according to the bureau.

The bureau says no permanent resident of Beijing has died from rabies since the city issued regulations governing pet ownership in 1994.

While it appears Beijing has been able to control the disease that causes an agonizing death, other parts of the country are reporting serious increases of the disease.

The Ministry of Health's website shows that 2,660 people died from rabies in 2004, while in 1996 there were only 159 reported fatalities from the disease. The website also reports that in 2004rabies made up just over 35 percent of all deaths from its list of37 infectious diseases.

In east China's Shandong Province reported 46 cases of rabies by the end of July this year, more than double the rate over the same period last year.

An outbreak of rabies killed 16 people in 14 townships of Jining city of Shandong Province prior to August 3.

Wang Ya, a member of the Shandong Provincial People's Political Consultative Conference says an explosion in the number of pet dogs is a major cause for the increase in rabies cases, said Wang.

Experts say pet owners who abandon their dogs are mainly responsible for the increasing rate the disease as stray dogs that have not been vaccinated are most likely to contract rabies.

China has some 150 million pet dogs, according to expert estimates.

(Xinhua News Agency August 23, 2006)

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