Rabies experiment necessary but not certain: COA
By Joy Lee ,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Council of Agricuture (COA) yesterday announced that rabies experiment on 14 beagles will require more opinions from experts before being executed, while claiming that the test is a necessity.
August 21, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
The Animal Health Research Institute (AHRI) under the COA, which will be in charge of the experiment, said that the institute actually has decreased the amount of animal samples being recommended by experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Tseng Chun-hsien of the AHRI said that according to the suggestion provided by those experts, the experiment will require 42 dogs in order to properly replicate a scenario in which rabies-infected ferret-badgers bite and potentially infect dogs.
“The first stage of the experiment will target mice and the AHRI also decreased the number of mice that will be used for the experiment from the recommended 150-180 to 100-120,” said Tseng.
“The AHRI also decided not to inject the virus directly into the animals' brains because it will be more painful,” Tseng said, “so the institute will choose to inject the virus from the animals' masticatory muscles.”
Huang Chien-yuan, secretary-general of the AHRI, said that rabies virus works differently on different types of species, and it has been decades since the rabies virus has been found in Taiwan.
“The AHRI worries that the rabies virus being discovered in ferret-badgers recently could be unique,” Huang said, “so some experts suggested to conduct an experiment on whether the rabies virus found in Taiwan could still infect dogs.”
According to the COA's announcement on Aug. 16, 14 healthy and lively beagle puppies will be chosen to be bitten by ferret-badgers that are affected with rabies in order to find out if the rabies virus discovered in Taiwan could also be transmitted to dogs.
Animal Activists Speak Up
The Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST, 台灣動物社會研究會) yesterday demanded the government to develop a better management system on animal experimentation.
According to EAST Director-General Chu Tseng-hung (朱增宏), professors' applications to conduct animal experiments only need approval from committees of their owner schools, which shows that there is no independent review system to make sure if the animal tests are necessary.
Chen Yu-min (陳玉敏), director of EAST, showed pictures of beagles that were samples for a tumor experiment, saying that there is no one to supervise when to inject painkillers or when to euthanize these dogs.
The EAST said that there are around 220 authorized experiment organizations and the government only chooses 40 for inspections annually, which means that many organizations will only be reviewed once every few years.
According to the COA's statistics, since 2002, there have been about 10 million animals involved in experiments, including 4,152 cats and dogs.
Lin Tsung-yi of the COA said that a committee to take care of and monitor animals involved in experiments will be formed shortly, hoping to take care of animals' welfare.