According to several national newspapers, Britain is under threat of rabies from Europe because EU rules governing pet travel are due to be relaxed at the end of 2011. The catalyst for the articles was a letter to the Veterinary Record by Dr Paul Burr and colleagues at the Biobest Laboratories who perform serology tests for rabies.
In a statement published today, Professor Bill Reilly, President of the British Veterinary Association said:
“It is very important that the British public is not unnecessarily concerned or alarmed by the statement from Dr Burr on rabies.
“Last week the European Parliament voted for an extension to the existing arrangements which allow the UK to apply stricter controls on animals entering the country until the end of 2011. This allows us additional time to fully assess the risk that harmonisation of the rules on rabies poses.
“However, we do know that the incidence of rabies has been reducing significantly in mainland Europe over the last 20 years due to a very successful vaccination programme. Therefore the threat posed to the UK by animals coming into the country from other member states should certainly not cause any panic.”
Andrew Ash, Junior Vice President of the British Small Animal Association (BSAVA), added:
“We are satisfied that the measures in place will be sufficient to protect both animal and human health and this extra window of time should allow us to collect the necessary scientific evidence on the impact of harmonisation.