BVA calls for post-rabies vaccination waiting times to be extended post-Brexit
As the UK prepares to exit the European Union, the BVA is calling on the government to extend the waiting time post-rabies vaccination to 12 weeks to minimise the risk of rabies entering the UK and simultaneously reduce illegal trade in puppies for sale via the non-commercial route.
The call comes as part of 15 key recommendations issued by BVA to strengthen legislation governing commercial as well as non-commercial movement of pets and safeguard both animal and public health.
While the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) has made pet transport between the UK and other EU countries easy and cost-effective, the ease of pet travel has raised some legitimate concerns among vets.
The 15 recommendations form part of BVA’s new Pet Travel policy, which has been developed in consultation with organisations including the BSAVA. They include:
- The extension of the waiting time post-rabies vaccination to 12 weeks with the aim of minimising the risk of rabies incursion into the UK and simultaneously reducing illegal trade in puppies for sale via the non-commercial route
- Compulsory tick and tapeworm treatment for all cats and dogs travelling under PETS
- Shortening the tapeworm treatment window from 24 to 120 hours, to 24 to 48 hours before entry from infected countries
- Restricting the number of animals that can travel under PETS to five per non-commercial consignment rather than five per person
- Improving enforcement services and surveillance at entry points to the UK
To reduce the risk of importation of exotic diseases through “trojan” pets, BVA is recommending restrictions on the movement of stray dogs from countries that are endemic for diseases not currently considered endemic in the UK, such as brucellosis, babesiosis and leishmaniasis, and the introduction of testing in stray dogs for any such diseases as a mandatory requirement before travel to the UK.
Prospective owners should be encouraged to rehome from the existing UK dog population and UK rehoming charities or welfare organisations.
African swine fever risk and clinical signs
African swine fever (ASF) is a notifiable disease and suspicion of it must be reported to APHA immediately. In summer 2017, the risk of ASF reaching the UK was raised from “very low” to “low” due to spread of the disease in Eastern and Central Europe. The International Disease Monitoring reports provide further information and a recent update has been published. ASF is currently present in Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, Hungary and Russia.
To aid veterinarians in the recognition of ASF, The Pirbright Institute and APHA have compiled images of the clinical signs and gross pathology in pigs infected with a virulent strain of ASF like that present in Eastern and Central Europe. These images can be accessed on the APHA Vet Gateway.
The greatest risk of introducing ASF into pigs in the UK is through pigs eating infected pork or pork products, wild boar meat from affected areas or other food that has been contaminated by infected meat. It is vital that pig keepers ensure that pigs, even those kept as pets, are never allowed access to any meat products, domestic kitchen waste or catering waste; feeding such material is illegal.
The ASF virus can survive for months in smoked, dried and cured meats, and in frozen meat. Although legal trade of such products is not permitted from ASF-restricted areas, ASF- infected material might be brought into the UK by individuals as personal imports. Farm staff who travel to affected areas and return to the UK pose a risk as well as people returning to the UK from holidays or hunting trips. It is also possible to bring back infection on contaminated clothing, footwear, equipment, etc.
Valuable procedures for pig keepers to prevent introduction of ASF include routinely providing dedicated clothing and boots for workers and visitors, limiting visitors to a minimum, and preventing outside vehicles or equipment which may be contaminated from coming on to pig premises.
Change to ordering and distribution of tuburculin in England, Scotland and Wales
In England (from 16 July 2018) and Scotland and Wales (from 1 August 2018), all tuberculin orders will be processed at APHA Weybridge. As of these dates, no orders will be processed at England, Scotland or Wales Field Services sites. The product is only available in the following formats: RBI5070 Dutch tuberculin test kit (2ml vials); RBI6275 Dutch tuberculin test kit (5ml vials); and kits cannot, due to the licence status, be broken down.
Remember to make use of the APHA post-mortem examination and diagnostic services at the Veterinary Investigation Centres and partner post-mortem providers. APHA offers subsidised testing on post-mortem examinations. Veterinary Investigation Officers are happy to provide free advice on cases, even if no submission is made to APHA. They also carry out farm visits for unusual cases.