New rules on pet travel will align U.K. rabies vaccine law with the rest of Europe as of Jan. 1, 2012.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) advise veterinarians to alert clients traveling abroad with pets of the change in law.
Dogs, cats and ferrets entering the U.K. must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, have waited 21 days after vaccination before entering the U.K. and have a European Pet Passport. The current requirement to carry out a blood test followed by a six-month wait before entry into the UK will not be required.
“It is vital that any controls on animal movements are proportionate to the risk,” says Dr. Harvey Locke, president of the BVA. “Due to the highly successful vaccination program in wildlife in mainland Europe there has been a huge reduction in the incidence in rabies. Research carried out by Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) reveals that the risk of introducing rabies under the new rules is very low.”
Pets entering from a non-listed country must pass a blood test 30 days after vaccination followed by a three-month wait. Until now, the UK deviated from European pet travel laws to allow additional controls to protect against rabies, ticks and tapeworms.
The BVA and BSAVA have continued to lobby in Europe for additional controls to be maintained for tapeworms, which could introduce Echinococcus multilocularis, which produces the disease known as echinococcosis in terrestrial mammals, including wolves, foxes, jackals, coyotes, dogs and humans.
“The pet travel scheme has been highly successful in keeping the U.K. free of rabies,” says Dr. Andrew Ash, president of the BSAVA. “We have been working closely with DEFRA to ensure that any changes to the pet travel rules do not threaten our disease-free status. The rabies vaccine has advanced and now has a longer duration of immunity and we welcome the continuing requirement for all pets to be vaccinated before travel.”