Brexit, Pet Passports and Rabies!


One thing that most of us are looking forward to when we achieve normality after this Covid-19 pandemic, is going on an overseas holiday. However, we now have the giant hurdle of Brexit to get over and the red tape surrounding this. We know that the rules around the Pet Passport are changing and British Pet Passports are not going to be allowed for travel through the EU as they were before.

Instead, an Export Health Certificate is required from your designated vet and certain criteria must be passed in order that one can be issued within ten days of travel. As I am writing this, the final stages of the negotiations are taking place and the finished details have not been signed off so, in such a fluid situation, it is vital you read the guidance from the Government website before planning any trips with your pets.

However, we must remember the reasons why that legislation exists and why it can be complex.

Rabies is an old and feared virus and has been around for thousands of years. It doesn’t just affect our dogs but also wild carnivores, ruminants and bats as well as humans. The reason it is so feared is that, once symptoms begin, there is no treatment, and it is 100% fatal. Over 55,000 people die of rabies world-wide every year. The virus is passed from an infected animal in its saliva. If it bites or licks another animal – or person – the virus hides in the muscle for a few days, then travels up the nerves to the brain. This is a slow journey and can take weeks or months, even up to a year, and which is why animal quarantine is for six months.

Once rabies reaches its destination, progression of the disease is rapid, and death occurs within ten to fourteen days.

The animal’s personality alters; confident animals become shy and nervous. It causes hallucinations and animals often attack randomly – a very convenient behaviour change to ensure the next victim is bitten with infected saliva. Finally, it causes paralysis of the throat and, as the animal cannot swallow, it froths at the mouth. Death is caused by suffocation, as the muscles used for breathing become paralysed. A very nasty disease indeed!

Britain (and a few other islands) has been rabies-free since 1902 although there have been a few isolated instances. If it gets loose in our own wildlife, then the results will be devastating. So, the legislation around protecting our island from rabies must be thorough and robust. Remember too that Eire is in the EU and travel to Ireland will be affected by the new legislation.

Perhaps, in the short term, even if travel restrictions due to Covid are relaxed, it may be better to leave your pets safely at home until we are sure that our countryside and our people can be safe from another deadly virus.

A happy and healthy 2021 to every one of you and your pets from all at Alder Vets.

BOURNE t. 01778 422863 e. 15 Exeter Street, Bourne PE10 9NW

SPALDING t: 01775 766646 e: 58 Bourne Rd, Spalding PE11 1JW

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