USA bans the import of dogs from more than 100 countries because of the risk of rabies

USA bans the import of dogs from more than 100 countries because of the risk of rabies

NEW YORK (AP) – U.S. health officials on Monday announced a year-long ban on dogs from more than 100 countries where rabies is still a problem.

Dogs that came from these countries already needed a rabies vaccination certificate. The ban comes because of an increase in the number of puppies refused entry because they weren’t old enough to be fully vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The ban comes into effect on July 14th.

Douglas Kratt, President of the American Veterinary Medical Association, welcomed the decision.

“We want to make sure we bring healthy dogs into the country – especially when they are pets,” said Kratt, a veterinarian in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

The ban applies to dogs entering or returning to the country, including pets or those brought in for sale or adoption. For example, if an American couple takes their dog to Belize, they cannot return the dog to the United States unless the dog first spends six months in a country that is not at high risk of rabies.

Elizabeth W. Kearley via Getty Images

Two dogs travel in a box.

About 1 million dogs are introduced into the US each year, and the ban is slated to apply to 4 to 7.5%, officials said. Exceptions are made for some situations, including guide dogs for the blind or foreigners entering the United States with their pets.

Most of the recently rejected dogs came from just three countries – Russia, Ukraine, and Colombia. But numerous other denials led the CDC to ban dogs from any country where the risk of rabies is also high, said Emily Pieracci, a CDC rabies expert.

Many of the denials were due to fraudulent papers claiming the dogs were older than 4 months, Pieracci said. Dogs younger than 4 months are not allowed, as rabies vaccinations only take full effect at this age.

Rabies is usually a fatal disease in animals and humans caused by a virus that invades the central nervous system. It is most commonly transmitted through a bite from an infected animal. Once symptoms start, there is no cure for it, but vaccination can prevent it.

Dogs were once frequent carriers of the virus in the US, but the type that normally circulates in dogs was eliminated through vaccination in the US in the 1970s. In 1988 a new breed of canine rabies was introduced from Mexico. It spread to wild coyotes and took 19 years to eliminate.

Cases from this second wave “highlight the impact a single imported case of rabies can have on wildlife, pets and humans,” Pieracci said.

The demand for dogs is believed to have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as Americans seek furry company, Pieracci noted.

But some rabies vaccination programs had to be suspended or canceled during the pandemic, increasing the risk of introducing a rabies dog, she added.

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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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