According to health officials, at least 17 fatal cases of human rabies have been reported throughout Thailand in 2018 as of mid-October. According to local sources, at least 14 provinces have been affected, including Surin, Songkla, Trang, Nakhon, Ratchasima, Buriram, Phattalung, Nong Khai, Yasothon, Rayong, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Kalasin, Mukdahan, and Surat Thani.
Rabies is a viral infection of the central nervous system spread by infected mammals, most often dogs and bats. Transmission occurs via contaminated saliva transferred via bites and scratches or otherwise coming in contact with broken skin or mucous membranes (in the eyes, nose, mouth, etc.). If not promptly treated, rabies is nearly always fatal.
The main line of defense against rabies is to avoid contact with domestic, feral, and wild animals (mammals); a vaccine is available for at-risk individuals (e.g. people who live or travel to isolated areas, far from medical clinics) and treatment after transmission is possible if started before symptoms appear.
Individuals present in Thailand are advised to avoid all contact with unfamiliar mammals (especially those acting erratically), make sure pets are vaccinated against the disease, and seek immediate medical attention if there is any possibility that transmission may have occurred.
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