Risk of rabies has increased with new change in quarantine rules
Dogs coming to the UK from within the EU and US are only held for three weeks and it is believed that due to such a short time frame there is a large increase in the rish of rabies.
Under the old system, dogs entering the UK had to be micro-chipped, blood tested and vaccinated against rabies. There was also a quarantine period of six months on top of this all. However under the new changes to bring the Pet Travel Scheme in line with the rest of Europe means that animals from EU, US and Australia no longer need a blood test and can be released after 21 days from their vaccination.
The only problem is that the incubation period for rabies can go beyond three weeks which means a dog with the disease could enter one of these countries.
This is especially important when the number of dogs entering the country from abroad has increased dramatically. From 85,664 in 2011 to 139,216 in 2013. These figures however do not take into account the number of dogs smuggled into the UK which is said to have increased 400% since the rules were relaxed.
Professor Sheila Crispin from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons said that “For something as important as rabies you really want to know that the vaccine has worked,”
Paula Boyden highlighted the issue perfectly: “The quarantine regulations we have don’t reflect the incubation period of rabies,”
A spokesperson from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that the risk of a dog entering the UK with rabies was very low. “The risk of rabies being passed from a pet to a person is lower still,”
“We continue to monitor the situation and will undertake a further, formal risk assessment if we feel that it is warranted.”
The last case of a rabid dog in the UK outside of quarantine was an an animal imported from Pakistan in 1970.