Comment: Nick Taylor on new report in Veterinary Record that suggests changes to EU regulation puts UK at rabies risk
Release Date 26 June 2015
Nick Taylor, a veterinary epidemiologist from the University of Reading, says the new report provides a strong argument that the changes to EU regulations should be reversed.
"Cases of rabies in the UK and wider EU are thankfully extremely rare. This is because of UK's island status and many years of effective control efforts on the continent, vaccinating both domestic pets and wild foxes that can transmit the infection. Through these efforts the threat of rabies has been driven to the southern and eastern borders of Europe.
"However, this report highlights how rabies could potentially make its way back to our shores through controversial changes to EU regulations. These governed the conditions under which pets can travel to UK from the EU and some other listed countries, without the need for six months quarantine.
"This study showed that a significant proportion of imported rescue dogs from Eastern Europe were found to have inadequate protection after rabies vaccination. If dogs and cats are imported from countries where rabies occurs, and they are not protected, there is a risk that they could be incubating the infection and become clinically diseased after coming into the UK.
"Removing the requirement for a confirmatory blood test allows such animals to travel to the UK, increasing the small risk there is to pets and their owners. The rabies threat to the UK is still minor. However the report provides a strong argument that the changes should be reversed, if possible."