China is second only to India worldwide in the number of people killed by rabies every year, the government has reported, making the disease one of the nation's biggest public health threats.
"China is one of the countries most severely affected by rabies, and in recent years the number of annual reported deaths from rabies has averaged around 2,400," the health ministry said in a statement on its website.
"It is only inferior in number to India, and gives us the world's second-place ranking."
The statement, issued to coincide with World Rabies Day on Monday, said rabies was among the top three infectious diseases in China.
According to the official Global Times newspaper, the other two serious diseases with high fatality rates are AIDS and tuberculosis.
The ministry quoted the World Health Organization as saying that more than 55,000 people die from rabies -- a disease most often transmitted through animal bites -- every year, with 95 percent of the cases in Asia or Africa.