(AP) — U.S. health
officials announced a one-year ban on importing dogs
from more than 100 countries where rabies
is still a problem on Monday.
The ban is being imposed due to an increase in the number of puppies denied entry because they were not fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The ban takes effect on July 14th.
The American Veterinary Medical Association's president
, Douglas Kratt, applauded the decision.
“We want to make sure we are bringing in healthy dogs, especially if they are going to be pets
,” said Kratt, a veterinarian in La Crosse, Wisconsin
The ban applies to all dogs entering or returning to the country, including pets and those brought in for sale or adoption. For example, if an American couple took their dog to Belize, they would be unable to bring the dog back to the United States
unless the dog first spent six months in a country where rabies is not a major threat.
Officials expect the ban to apply to 4% to 7.5% of the dogs brought into the United States each year, with exceptions made for guide
dogs for the blind and foreigners moving
to the United States with their pets.
The majority of the dogs recently rejected came from just three countries: Russia
, and Colombia
, but a slew of other rejections prompted the CDC
to ban dogs from all countries where the risk of rabies is also high, according to Emily Pieracci, a CDC rabies expert.
Many of the rejections were due to fraudulent paperwork claiming the dogs were older than 4 months, according to Pieracci, who added that dogs younger than 4 months aren't allowed in because rabies vaccinations
don't take full effect until the dog reaches that age.
Rabies is typically a fatal disease in both animals
and humans, caused by a virus that infiltrates the central nervous system and is most commonly transmitted through a bite from an infected animal. There is no cure once symptoms appear, but it can be avoided through vaccination.
Dogs were once common carriers of the virus in the United States, but the type that normally circulates in dogs was eradicated in the 1970s through vaccinations. In 1988, a new strain of dog rabies was introduced from Mexico
, and it took 19 years to eradicate.
Cases from the second wave “highlight the impact that a single imported case of rabies can have on wildlife
, domestic animals, and people
,” said Pieracci.
Pieracci believes that during the COVID-19 pandemic
, demand for dogs increased as Americans sought furry companionship.
However, due to the pandemic, some dog rabies vaccination programs had to be suspended or canceled, raising the risk of bringing in a rabid dog.