On 17 July 2013, Taiwan confirmed multiple cases of the rabies virus (RABV) in the wild Taiwan Ferret badger (TFB) (Melogale moschata) member of the family Mustelidae. This study aims at investigating the risk factors for human exposure to rabid TFBs. Statistical inference based on Pearson correlation showed that there was a strong positive correlation between the total number of positive TFB rabies cases and the number of rabid TFBs involved with human activities in 81 enzootic townships (r = 0.91; p < 0.001). A logistic regression analysis indicated that the risk probability of a human being bitten by rabid TFBs was significantly higher when there were no dogs around (35.55% versus 6.17% (indoors, n = 171, p = 0.0001), and 52.00% versus 5.26% (outdoors, n = 44, p = 0.021)), and whether or not there was a dog around was the only crucial covariate that was statistically significantly related to the risk of a human being bitten. In conclusion, this study showed the value of having vaccinated pets as a deterrent to TFB encounters and as a buffer to prevent human exposure to rabid TFBs. The presence of unvaccinated pets could become a significant risk factor in the longer term if rabies isn’t controlled in TFBs because of the spillover between the sylvatic and urban cycles of rabies. Consequently, raising dogs, as well as keeping rabies vaccinations up-to-date for them, can be considered an effective preventive strategy to reduce the risk for human exposure to rabid TFBs.
Keywords: Melogale moschata; Taiwan; ferret badger; human exposure; rabies.