It is estimated that around 55,000 human deaths occur each
year worldwide as a result of rabies. The vast majority
(>90%) arise as a result of being bitten by an infected
dog and the last recorded human fatality in the UK was in
May 2012. The patient concerned, contracted the disease
after being bitten by a dog in India.
The UK has thus far been been very effective at avoiding
the introduction of this fatal viral disease through the
enforcement of a number of different strategies. Quarantine,
microchipping, vaccination and pet passports have all played
a part in keeping the UK rabies-free since the beginning
of the 20th century.
Recent reports of rabies in France (22/10/13) and the Netherlands
(3/11/13) in imported kitten and puppies should serve as
a very important reminder of the need to be vigilant. Well
intentioned travellers abroad must ensure that they comply
with the appropriate importation requirements. Local authorities
can seize any suspected pet where these regulations have
been compromised on the premise that the welfare of one
individual cannot be allowed to compromise the health of
My veterinary colleague Nora recently rescued an English
Setter that had been found abandoned in Spain. Sensibly,
she ensured that her new companion was suitably vaccinated
against rabies and tested for all other infectious diseases
currently found in mainland Europe but not in the UK.
Setter Rescue Association enforce a strict health requirement
policy. As well as having a Pet Passport they must be tested
and certified clear of Leishmaniasis, be tested for Babeseosis,
Erhlichia and Filariosis and, if only slightly affected,
treated until clear.
Fortunately for Nora, her new companion "London"
has now been certified healthy and is currently in the process
of readjusting to the British climate and the joys of Burbage