A case of canine rabies has been reported in Le Chambon-Feugerolles, a commune close to Saint-Etienne in the Loire Valley in France.

A seven-month-old bull terrier died during the night of May 17 to 18, while under quarantine at a veterinary practice, after biting a family member and the dog of a neighbour.

Tests at the Pasteur Institute confirmed rabies infection after positive tests by direct immunofluorescence, elisa and virus isolation.

The dog had originally been acquired from Hungary in late December 2014, and entered France illegally without vaccination.

However, as a result of virus typing, it is believed the dog became infected with rabies during a visit to Algeria between April 21 and May 7.

As a result local restrictions on the movement of unvaccinated and unidentified dogs, cats and ferrets have been imposed until October 27, 2015.

Any vaccinated animals that have been in contact with the dog will be monitored for six months, while unvaccinated animals will be euthanised.

The occurrence of rabies in a single imported animal does not affect rabies status of the country or affect normal movements under the UK Pet Travel Scheme.

Tricia Colville, president of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) said the case demonstrated the importance of complying with the requirements of pet travel legislation.

“Anyone acquiring a dog (or a cat or a ferret) from abroad has to be sure that it is fully compliant with the regulations,” she said. “There is now 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.

“We would urge pet owners in the UK to take their animals overseas only if they are confident that they comply with the requirements of the scheme – and to also consider if travelling with that animal is really in its best interest.

“At the same time veterinary surgeons should always remain vigilant for pets exhibiting clinical signs that might fit within the rabies spectrum, especially if there is a recent history of travel abroad.”

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