Educating the Veterinary Students of Tomorrow
The major worry of illegal dog imports into the UK is rabies. The UK has been rabies free for many years but the disease is still present in many other countries (95% of deaths are reported in Asia and Africa (WHO, 2019)). Rabies is a virus affecting many mammals and is fatal to both dogs and humans without essential vaccinations and quick treatment post infection. The virus is present in the saliva and is usually spread by a bite from an infected animal, and can be carried by bats. More than 99% of human deaths from rabies contracted the disease via dog bites (WHO, 2019), a large proportion of which are children, highlighting how important it is to vaccinate dogs and educate people about how to control dogs showing signs of the disease.
The clinical signs of the disease can range from increased aggression, hydrophobia (fear of water) and frothing at the mouth to a drooping lower jaw and paralysis (DEFRA, 2014). With puppies illegally entering the UK from countries where the disease is present, especially Lithuania and Romania (DogsTrust, 2014), a rabies outbreak is the big fear for many veterinary professionals, especially since changes to the Pet Travel Scheme in December 2014 included a new minimum age of 12 weeks before a pet can be vaccinated against rabies.
Vet students and vets have the opportunity to travel abroad and volunteer for MISSION RABIES if they want to - you can read more here! http://www.missionrabies.com/get-involved/
Dogs Trust. (2014) The Puppy Smuggling Scandal. Available at: https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/press-materials/dt_puppy_smuggling_report_v12_web(1).pdf (Accessed on 11th February 2018)
DEFRA. (2014) Rabies: how to spot and report the disease in animals. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/rabies (Accessed on 11th February 2018)
Public Health England. (2017) Rabies risks in terrestrial animals by country. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rabies-risks-by-country/rabies-risks-in-terrestrial-animals-by-country (Accessed on 1th February 2018
WHO (2019). What is rabies? Available at: https://www.who.int/rabies/about/en/ (Accessed 11th March 2019)