The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has suspended the import of dogs for time being from around 113 countries that have been identified as high-risk nations for dog rabies. The import ban has come into effect from July 14, 2021. The new ban will apply to all dogs like emotional support dogs, puppies, and dogs that have gone outside the United States and now coming back from high-risk nations said the officials. They have said that the order also applies to dogs returning from other countries and in case, they have visited high-risk nations in the last six months. The federal agency has said that the new temporary ban is required to sustain the health and safety of dogs that are imported into the US. The new order will ensure and protect the wellbeing of the public against the recurrence of canine rabies virus variant (dog rabies) in the US. Emily Peiracci, who is a veterinary medical officer from the CDC, has said that in the last one and a half years during the COVID19 pandemic, the agency has seen a major rise in the number of dogs being imported into the US producing fake or fallacious rabies vaccination certificates. The officials have said that the order applies to 113 countries such as Russia, China, India, Brazil, Peru, Kenya, Brazil, EI Salvador, Guatemala, Belarus, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Jordan, Cuba, Malaysia, Ecuador, Indonesia, and Nigeria.
Emily Peiracci has said that many dog vaccination programs across the world have been deferred during the pandemic. She has said that the numbers of canine rabies cases are rising in Haiti and Peru due to the suspended dog vaccination. Dr. Emily Peiracci has warned that considering the effects of the pandemic on the status of dog vaccination, experts are unsure how the landscape of rabies is going to appear in the future. As per the CDC data, around 1.06 million dogs are imported into the US each year. Now, the CDC expects that dog importation might see a reduction of 6 percent due to the import ban. The pandemic has affected flight schedules as well and dogs that are denied entry into the US are forced to struggle with long wait times to be returned to their countries of departure. At times, it leads to severe illness and death as well in certain cases. As per the report, dog rabies has been eradicated from the US in 2017. However, it is quite prevalent in many countries. The disease claims the lives of around 59000 people across the world each year, said the experts. Health experts have noted that these deaths can be prevented if vaccination is done before the onset of symptoms.
Experts have said that dogs in the US might be diagnosed with raccoons or skunk infections but they will not contract dog-specific rabies from another dog with the new import ban in place. The CDC officials have said that they might give out the high-level written permits for importing dogs that are fully vaccinated against rabies from high-risk nations but only on a very limited basis. They have said that under the new guideline, dogs from high-risk countries cannot come to the US until they are 16 weeks old and fully vaccinated against rabies. Dogs that are denied entry in the US do not have a proper place to house them safely. The CDC owns just one quarantine facility at New York’s JFK airport for dogs. The lack of proper housing facilities has led to unsafe conditions for airport staff and for dogs as well, said the experts. Some dogs have been housed in airline cargo warehouses for a long time that has resulted in severe illness and even death of the dogs. Health experts have said that countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and members of the European Union have effectively eradicated dog rabies. These countries have higher levels of testing and quarantine arrangements as compared to the United States.