According to health officials, at least three people have died from rabies throughout Thailand since the beginning of January. As of Wednesday, March 7, authorities have listed 13 provinces as "red zones" for rabies, including Surin, Chon Buri, Sumut Prakan, Chachoengsao, Nan, Buri Ram, Ubon Ratchathaini, Chiang Rai, Rot Et, Songkhla, Rayong, Tak, and Sri Sa Ket.
Authorities in the affected areas have reportedly implemented public health measures, including vaccination campaigns, to contain the spread of the disease.
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 caught before symptoms appear.
Individuals present in Thailand are advised to avoid all contact unfamiliar animals (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.