Authorities activate contingency plan
Spanish authorities have activated their rabies contingency plan after a dog carrying the disease had to be euthanised in Toledo, central Spain.
The dog was confirmed to have rabies after travelling to Morocco, and is known to have bitten several people, including a two-year-old child.
All humans and animals who have had contact with the affected dog are to be traced in accordance with the contingency plan.
Furthermore, all dogs, cats and rabbits within a 20km radius of Toledo will undergo compulsory vaccination. Those considering travelling to Spain with their pet have been advised to check the restrictions in place with the Spanish authorities.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) conducted a preliminary outbreak assessment, reporting that the increased risk of rabies being introduced to the UK by a legally imported pet is negligible.
There are, however, current concerns about the potential for rabies to enter the UK through illegal importation of susceptible animals.
"This case demonstrates all too clearly the importance of complying with the requirements of pet travel legislation," said Professor Michael Day, president of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA).
"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."
Suspected rabies cases should be reported to the nearest Animal Health Office, and the animal kept restrained and isolated. A veterinary officer will usually come to the practice to manage the investigation.
Click here to view Defra's preliminary outbreak assessment.
Large image: Toledo, Spain
Small image (above): Michael Day, BSAVA president