Rabies Case in Central Spain
It has been reported that a dog in Toledo, central Spain, has been euthanased having been confirmed to have rabies after travelling to Morocco. The dog is known to have bitten several people including a two year old child.
The Spanish authorities have now activated their rabies contingency plan, which includes the tracing of all human and animal contacts with the affected dog and compulsory vaccination of all dogs, cats and ferrets within a 20km radius around Toledo. Anyone considering travelling to Spain with their pet should check on the restrictions in place with the Spanish authorities.
Defra has published a preliminary outbreak assessment which states that this incident poses a negligible increase in risk of the introduction of rabies to the UK via a legally imported pet.
BSAVA President, Professor Michael Day says, “This case demonstrates all too clearly the importance of complying with the requirements of pet travel legislation. Pet owners in the UK should only take their animals overseas if they are confident that they comply with the requirements of the Pet Travel Scheme. At the same time veterinary surgeons should always remain vigilant for pets exhibiting clinical signs that might fit within the rabies spectrum, especially if there is a recent history of travel abroad.”
Rabies is a notifiable disease and any suspect case should be reported immediately to your nearest Animal Health Office. The suspected animal should be kept isolated and restrained along with any other animals with which it may have had contact. A veterinary officer will normally come to the practice immediately and will manage the investigation.
Should rabies enter the country, the government already has contingency plans in place which would be activated as they have been in Spain.
There are currently concerns about the potential for rabies to enter the UK via illegal importation of susceptible animals. UK veterinary surgeons are reminded that responsibility for dealing with illegal imports rests with local authorities; usually Trading Standards or Environmental Health. It may be appropriate for veterinary practices to contact their local authority to ensure that they know how to report such cases before the need arises. In theory all animals entering the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme should have their documentation checked. If a veterinary surgeon in practice finds any suggestion of non-compliance they should inform Defra at firstname.lastname@example.org.