New York – The United States will ban dogs from more than 100 countries where rabies remains a problem for one year, authorities announced Monday.
Dogs from those countries had to prove in advance that they were vaccinated against rabies. The ban will be implemented due to an increase in the number of puppies denied entry because they were not large enough to be fully vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. ).
The ban will go into effect on July 14.
Douglas Kratt, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, welcomed the decision.
“We want to make sure that we are bringing healthy dogs into the country, especially if they are going to be pets,” said Kratt, a veterinarian based in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
The ban covers dogs that enter or return to the nation, including pets or those that are brought in for sale or adoption. For example, if an American couple brought their dog to Belize, they would not be able to bring it back to the United States unless the dog first spends six months in a country that is not at high risk for rabies.
About a million dogs are brought to the United States each year, and the ban is expected to affect between 4% and 7.5% of them, authorities said. Exceptions will be made for some situations, such as guide dogs or foreigners moving into the country with their pets.
Most of the dogs recently denied entry came from three countries: Russia, Ukraine and Colombia. But several more rejections prompted the CDC to ban dogs from all countries where the risk of rabies is too high, explained Emily Pieracci, a CDC rabies expert.
Many of the rejections were for false documentation claiming the dogs were older than 4 months, Pieracci said. Dogs under 4 months of age cannot enter the country because rabies vaccines have no effect before the dog reaches that age.
Rabies is usually a deadly disease for both dogs and humans, and is caused by a virus that invades the central nervous system. Most commonly, it is spread through the bite of an infected animal. There is no cure for it once symptoms occur, but it can be prevented by vaccination.
Dogs were once common carriers of the virus in the United States, but the type of rabies that generally circulates among dogs was eliminated in the nation through vaccinations in the 1970s. In 1988, a new type of canine rabies was brought in. from Mexico. It spread to wild coyotes and took 19 years to eliminate.
The cases from that second wave “highlight the impact that a single case of imported rabies can have on wildlife, domestic animals and people,” Pieracci said.
Demand for dogs is believed to have been on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic as Americans seek furry companionship, Pieracci noted.
However, some rabies vaccination programs for dogs had to be suspended or canceled during the pandemic, so the risk of bringing a dog with rabies is higher, he added.