DOGS TRUST RESPONSE TO CASE OF RABIES CONFIRMED IN BRITAIN
24 May 2012
Dogs Trust urges the public not to panic after reports of a rabies case in Britain has been confirmed. The risk of contracting the disease from human to human is very low as advised by the HPA.
It has been reported that sadly the disease was contracted by the patient from a puppy in India which means that the risk of the disease entering the UK pet population is low.
Dogs Trust is calling on the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) to improve the measures being put in place to ensure that the UK remains protected against rabies and other diseases impacting both dog and human health after changes to the pet travel scheme came into effect on 1st January.
The charity remains concerned that the relaxed pet travel laws could expose people and pets in the UK to an increased risk of infectious disease if appropriate measures are not put in place by Defra to monitor the transfer of animals in and out of the UK. Similarly Dogs Trust is concerned that people are still not aware of the changes to the law and are committed to educating the pet owning public about these changes.
The new rules on the pet travel scheme mean that the UK’s rabies rules are now in line with the rest of Europe. The changes mean that the previous requirement to carry out a blood test followed by a six-month wait before (re-)entry into the UK will no longer be required.
The key changes are:
Dogs, cats and pet ferrets entering the UK from an EU or ‘listed’ third country from 1 January 2012 must:
- be microchipped
- be vaccinated against rabies
- have waited 21 days after vaccination before entering the UK
- be treated against the tapeworm Echinococcus mulitlocularis 1-5 days before travel (it is currently 24-48 hours)
Tick treatment for pet animals returning to the UK will no longer be required
From 1st January pets entering from a non-listed third country must pass a blood test 30 days after vaccination followed by a three-month wait.
On the changes to the Pet travel scheme, Dogs Trust Veterinary Director, Paula Boyden, says:
“The changes mean that pet owners only need to vaccinate their pets against rabies 21 days before travelling into the UK from the EU. However, Dogs Trust believes that a 21 day wait without a blood test does not indicate whether a dog has responded to the vaccine or not. As such we would liked to have seen this period extended to three months. The relaxed rules also raise additional concerns regarding the introduction into the UK of other diseases that can be passed from pets to humans, such as the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis.
We are therefore seeking assurance from Defra that a comprehensive system has been established to record the number and frequency of individual animals travelling in and out of the UK, and that the staff enforcing these checks on entry to the UK have been adequately trained and present in sufficient numbers in order to protect the health of the public and their pets.
Dogs Trust believes that a system of nationwide compulsory microchipping and registration would mean that checks on pets travelling into the UK could be carried out and traced back to their owners through a European microchipping database. We are waiting for Defra to clarify the contingency plans in place to address these concerns and to raise awareness amongst vets and other animal welfare organisations of the diseases associated with pets travelling abroad. We would also strongly advise the public to speak to their veterinary surgeon before travelling abroad with their pet and to be mindful of all the necessary precautions required.”
For further press information or interviews, please contact Dogs Trust Press Office: 020 7837 0006 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Out-of-hours press phone: 07768 616 280