Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced on Wednesday the discovery of a virus that could be a new type of lyssavirus, a genus of ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus that, as with the rabies virus, can be transmitted from animals to humans and is extremely deadly.
The CDC made the announcement based on the results of a forensic examination conducted by the Animal Health Research Institute under the Council of Agriculture (COA) on the carcass of a bat.
Following the finding, the agency has added individuals bitten by bats to its list of persons entitled to receive rabies immunoglobulin inoculations under guidelines governing clinical medical treatment for those bitten or scratched by animals suspected of having rabies or lyssavirus.
The COA Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine publicized the test results earlier in the day after the bat was delivered for forensic examination by the Bat Conservation Society of Taipei on July 26.
Bureau deputy director-general Shih Tai-hua (???) said it was a Japanese house bat discovered in the Luermen, Annan District of Tainan.
According to the Animal Health Research Institute report, the virus in the bat carcass is only 79.1 percent to 80.5 percent similar to the existing 14 species of the lyssavirus family. As such, the report concludes it is likely a new type of lyssavirus.
Categorizing the new virus as a zoonosis, Shih said although it is not rabies, it represents a new threat.
He reminded people not to make contact with bats although no human has ever been infected with such a virus and to seek immediate medical treatment if bitten.
Echoing Shih's call, Huang Li-min (???), a pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases at National Taiwan University Hospital, noted that as bats live in groups "one infectious bat could mean the whole colony has been infected." He urged people to keep their distance from bats in the wild.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel