Around Slovakia

Rabies outbreak infects village
Border police nab car smugglers
Synagogue reportedly damaged by skinheads
New drug addiction treatment center opens
Bears run rampant in search for food

Rabies outbreak infects village

Veterinarians and medical personnel from around the region descended on this village of less than 1,000 residents in east Slovakia for more than 10 days when the local animal doctor found out that a cat had contracted rabies on October 31. Not only was the cat prowling around those people who own it, but it was also cavorting with the children at the kindergarten next to the house where it lived, dramatically raising the possibility that the disease would be passed to humans.
Taking precautions, the medics hospitalized 73 people in nearby Krompachy, with 57 of that total being children from the kindergarten. Just when it seemed as if everything had calmed down, though, a guard dog for a company that hews stones came up with rabies, forcing another medical alert. All the employees who had been in contact with the canine, especially the security workers, received shots and were hospitalized for several days. "So far, none of our patients have come down with any complications," said Ján Sivák, head of the medical department at the Krompachy hospital. "We have let two adults go home already, but we cannot underestimate the situation."
Because of the scare, the village has enacted strict rules. Cats and dogs that are seen just wandering around are picked up. If no one identifies them, they are shipped off to a veterinarian's office in Košice. As for Švedlár itself, its animal population stands suspended in time; regional authorities have put it in quarantine, ordering that no animal can be brought in or out of the village for 90 days.

Border police nab car smugglers

Tight-knit cooperation formed between border police and customs officials in this village of less than 1,000 residents at the Slovak-Ukrainian border has netted an impressive catch of stolen cars. As of November 12, border police had confiscated 255 stolen cars, 27 more than in all of 1995, according to police officials, who added that they expect to break the record for the number of recovered cars at a single border crossing in Slovakia by the end of 1996. Andrej Koman, director of the Košice Regional Police Corps, confirmed the police's successful efforts when he said that Vyšné Nemecké is now scaring off stolen car smugglers. Among the vehicles which police have discovered are cars pilfered from France, Germany and Italy, where the thieves had already successfully crossed other borders. Among the most popular makes are VWs, BMWs and Mercedes.

Synagogue reportedly damaged by skinheads

An owner of a gallery housed in a synagogue in this town of 12,000 in western Slovakia reported that a group of skinheads broke into the Jewish shrine on November 10, shouting "The road to the synagogue stinks of Jews," smashing windows and etching the Nazi swastika on the walls.
However, when police went to investigate the incident after the owner informed them of the break-in two days later, they found no evidence that skinheads had been involved or that any crime had been committed at all.
"We looked at the building, our officers filled out reports on it, and in our opinion the damage was not done by skinheads," said the vice-director of the Šamorín police corps. "Only one window was broken and it was probably broken by one vandal. On the walls we found only one old painted cross, and that is probably a mark to show where the tap for closing the water is."
The head of Šamorín's police department said, "I have been in office for four years, and during that time we have not recorded any racists attacks by skinheads. According to what we know there were not any suspicious people around the synagogue on Sunday evening." The case is still being investigated by the police.

New drug addiction treatment center opens

This city of 86,000 and new regional capital in northern Slovakia became the fifth town in the country to have a center for drug addiction treatment. In 1996, the Cabinet earmarked 10 million Sk for the Žilina center and another 30 million Sk for finishing other establishments in Nové Zámky, Banská Bystrica, Košice and Bratislava.
In the first half of 1996, 991 Slovak drug addicts received treatment, of whom 75 percent were male between the age of 15 and 19 years-old. That age bracket nonetheless is two years lower than the European average and three years younger than in The United States, drug treatment experts said.
For the first time since 1992, the number of known drug addicts from other regions has approached the figures in Bratislava, with Žilina currently running second in total number of addicts.
In anti-drug activities, Slovakia is integrated into the system of statistical data with the European Union and the World Health Organization.
Since May 1993, a department specializing in drug addiction has been operating at the Health Ministry. As part of the EU's Phare program, a national seminar on combatting drug use was held on November 6-8 in Vrátna, near Žilina.

Bears run rampant in search for food

Brown bears are growing bolder and edging closer and closer to residential areas as they canvass for food in the woods near this city of 54,000 in central Slovakia. In recent days, hunters have reported eyeballing bears roaming outside a forest near the city, and eating fallen apples next to a hunter's cottage. A group of nine bears was spotted in Necpálske Háje, about a kilometer from the village of Nedozery-Brezany, where they had probably found fallen beechnuts, according to people from that area.
In 1995, people reported three bear attacks in the woods around the
regional capital of Nitra. Unfortunately for the bears, those who they attacked were armed hunters, and the bears were shot and killed. There have been no such incidents this year, according to Jozef Povašan, secretary of the Slovak Hunters Union's Regional Committee in Prievidza.
Noting the bears' manners and their movements, Povašan said it indicates that this area is overpopulated with the furry creatures, estimating them to number 45-50. To decrease their numbers, five bears were killed in 1996, but it will be necessary to kill more, Povašan said.
Brown bears were reintroduced into Slovakia in 1932 and given protected status. Gradually, their number increased and in 1968 regulated shooting was approved. Since then, 70 bears have been killed in the region. In recent years, interest in bear hunting has increased, despite the that the cost for a license is 130,000 Sk.

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