Date: 27 April 2009
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Out of hours telephone 020 7270 8960
Consultation on rabies inspection procdeures
Current import checks for rabies-susceptible animals entering the UK from outside the EU are being reviewed.
Defra, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland, are consulting on the way import checks are conducted on rabies-susceptible animals, including commercial consignments and unaccompanied pets.
On arrival into the UK, rabies-susceptible animals are securely transported to quarantine premises where they undergo a six-month programme of veterinary inspection and monitoring.
The European Commission is recommending that this system is changed so that these consignments of animals are checked at the border before being transported to the quarantine premises.
Animal Health Minister Jane Kennedy said:
“We have effective measures in place to ensure that Britain remains free of rabies – and that’s borne out by the fact that we have had only four cases of rabies in this country since 1969 – all in quarantined animals.
“We ask all those that may be affected for their views on whether the existing practice of moving rabies-susceptible animals immediately to a quarantine facility should be changed, so that an entry check is first instead carried out at border inspection posts before movement to a quarantine facility.”
In the UK the last human death from indigenous rabies was in 1902, and the last case of indigenous terrestrial animal rabies was in 1922. The most recent case of an animal in quarantine with rabies was in April 2008 when disease was detected in a puppy imported from Sri Lanka.
Notes to Editors
- Comments are invited on any aspect of the options laid out in the consultation paper which is available at: www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/foodfarming.htm and closes on 20 July 2009.
- The review will not be considering the import conditions such as pre-export requirements, certification, and controls on movement to destination or quarantine requirements. The import controls relating to pet animals under Regulation 998/2003, i.e. the pet passport system, will not be changed. These are the requirements to microchip, vaccinate and blood test pet dogs and cats before they can enter the UK.
- Cases of rabies in the UK have been detected in quarantined animals (4 between 1969 and now) or in people infected abroad. Since 1946 there have been 22 deaths in the UK of people infected with rabies whilst abroad.
- UK bats may carry a rabies-like virus, European Bat Lyssavirus 2 (EBLV2). To date seven cases of EBLV 2 have been confirmed in bats in the UK. In 2002, a bat handler in Scotland died from EBLV2 infection.
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Page published: 27 April 2009