The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention enacts a temporary ban on dogs imported to the United States from more than 100 countries, due to an increased risk of rabies.
The new policy, as a first reported per Reuters on Monday, will suspend the importation of dogs from 113 countries from July 14. These countries include Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Russia, Ecuador, Cuba, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brazil, and China, all of which are considered to be at high risk for rabies. The full list of prohibited countries can be viewed here; neither European Union country nor the United Kingdom is on the list.
Rabies is a scary viral disease spread by direct contact with the saliva of an infected carrier; this usually happens through a bite from the infected animal (theoretically this could be spread by a human bite, but this has never been documented). It is almost always fatal in humans and the many animals that contract it, including dogs, usually causing flu-like illness early on and later confusion, hallucinations, aggression, excessive salivation, and a deep aversion to it. the water. Fortunately, there has been a highly effective rabies vaccine for over a century, which can even work if given soon after exposure to the virus, before symptoms appear, which can take weeks. months.
Historically, rabid dogs have been the main source of rabies in humans. But in the United States, dog vaccination programs have led to the local extinction of the canine form of rabies since 2007, and human rabies has almost disappeared with it. While there are species of wildlife in the United States that can still transmit rabies, annual cases of rabies in humans are now single digits in the United States. dog rabies remains endemic in many parts of the world, and an estimated 59,000 people die from the virus each year worldwide.
To justify the ban, CDC officials cite the effects of the pandemic on rabies vaccination programs, with many countries having suspended them for the time being, as well as an increase in falsified vaccination cards used to have these inspected. dogs. In some cases, dogs have been left on standby until illness or death after being refused entry due to fraudulent documents, in part due to delays in flight schedules also affected by the pandemic .
“Given the impact that covid has had on these vaccination programs around the world, we don’t really know what our rabies landscape will look like in the future,” Emily Pieracci, veterinarian at the Reuters, told Reuters. CDC.
Despite the long list of banned countries, the CDC says the policy will have little effect on the total number of dogs imported. About a million dogs are imported into the United States each year, and authorities estimate that the ban, which is supposed to last for a year, will affect 6% of those imports.
While rabies is no longer a major local threat here, that doesn’t mean we can let our guard down. This week, New York City health officials ad the start of their annual campaign tooculate the city’s wild raccoon population from rabies by baiting them with fish-scented pieces of food containing the oral vaccine. These types of programs have been led in many countries, including the United States, for decades now, and in New York City since 2014.