BSAVA is marking World Rabies Day on Monday (September 28) with a call for pet owners and vets to work together to help eradicate the disease.
Every year about 60,000 people die from rabies, 40% of them children. Most of these cases (99%) were the result of an infected dog bite.
The disease is preventable and BSAVA says the international veterinary community is an integral part of the solution.
It is supporting organisations such as the Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS) and Mission Rabies, which are working to eradicate rabies overseas.
The disease has a devastating impact in India and Africa, but whenever there is a reported case of canine rabies in Europe there is understandable concern in the UK.
BSAVA president Tricia Colville said: “Of course, the public and the veterinary profession share concerns about the potential for rabies to enter Britain, particularly through illegal importation of susceptible animals.
“Responsibility for dealing with illegal imports rests with local authorities – usually trading standards or environmental health – and veterinary practices may wish to contact their local authority to ensure they know how to report such cases before the need arises.
“In theory, all animals entering the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme should have their documentation checked. With a minimum age of 12 weeks for rabies vaccination under the Pet Travel Scheme, as well as a requirement to wait 21 days before travel within Europe, this means any animal under the age of 15 weeks will not be compliant.
“If a veterinary surgeon in practice finds any suggestion of non-compliance they should inform Defra.”