Britain’s quarantine laws were introduced in the 19th Century to combat the threat of rabies. The UK’s Animal Quarantine Laws are to be relaxed from the start of January 2012. Dogs entering the UK have been subject to 6 months quarantine since 1897. Cats were added in 1928, and ferrets in 2004. There have been 24 human deaths in the UK from imported rabies since 1902, with the last indigenous animal case being reported in 1922. The current laws governing the movement of pets in the UK will be brought into line with European legislation. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said “vastly improved rabies vaccines” meant pets no longer had to spend six months in quarantine when entering the UK. But some animal welfare groups claim the changes could expose Britain to an increased risk of rabies. Defra said that all pets entering the UK will still need to be vaccinated against rabies, and that the changes will ensure the risk of rabies coming to the UK remains “extremely low”.
From January 2012, pets from the EU and listed non-EU countries such as the US and Australia will no longer need a blood test and will only have to wait 21 days before they travel. Pets from unlisted non-EU countries such as India, Brazil and South Africa will be able to enter the UK if they meet certain strict criteria to ensure they are protected against rabies, including a blood test and a three-month wait before they enter the UK.
Current rules which require animals to be treated for ticks and tapeworm will also be relaxed.
Personally I have my doubts as to how effective these new rules will be in protecting the UK from Rabies. We shall see, but is it worth vaccinating our pets against Rabies? Personally, I think so.