Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Rabies in Holland

You read it here first: back in October I flagged up the potential problems we would face with the relaxation in the Pet Travel Scheme regulations.

I suggested that it would only be a matter of time before we had cases of rabies, and WHAT A SURPRISE!

A news report in the Veterinary Record this week tells the story of a puppy imported from Morocco via Spain, who went on to develop clinical rabies on its arrival in Holland. It had to be put to sleep, along with three other animals that had been in contact and 45 people had to have treatment for exposure to rabies.

How did this happen? The customs officers on arrival in Spain, on departure from Spain AND on arrival in Holland ALL failed to spot that this dog had not had a rabies blood test and had not waited the required 3 months in Morocco before export.

The moral of the story? The regulations are too complicated (at the clinic we deal with them all the time and still we have to keep referring to the documentation), and most importantly, rabies is still around, and sometimes quite close to home.

I believe that the decision to lift the requirement for a rabies blood test before issuing a PETS passport from the UK was a big mistake.

5 out of every 100 dogs do not respond fully to their first rabies vaccine. Without a blood test you have no idea which those 5 are.

And when the UK issues over 40,000 new passports every year, that's 2,000 pets who are eligible to travel but will not be protected against rabies.

As I said, it's just a matter of time before we have an outbreak of rabies in the UK. Make sure it's not your pet: even though the law does not require it any more, we strongly recommend rabies blood testing for ALL pets that travel.

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