Health Alert – Imported Dogs with Questionable Rabies Documentation
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has received reports of an increasing number of dogs with questionable documentation of prior rabies vaccination. The dogs are being imported into the United States from rabies-endemic countries.
CDC has learned of several instances when importers have provided inaccurate rabies vaccine certificates for puppies arriving into the United States. These documents state that the puppies are older than 4 months of age and fully immunized against rabies. However, upon examination, these animals were found to be less than 4 months old and sometimes as young as 4-8 weeks of age. Documentation has also included falsification of birth location and breed registration.
Federal regulations require that dogs coming from rabies-endemic countries be fully immunized against rabies [i.e., puppies at least 3 months of age must receive the initial rabies vaccination at least 30 days prior to U.S. arrival, and adult dogs (i.e., ≥15 months old) should be current on rabies booster vaccination]. Dogs that are not fully immunized and are coming from rabies-endemic countries may be allowed entry into the United States, at the discretion of CDC, if the importer signs a confinement agreement.
This agreement requires the importer to confine the dogs at a specified location until they can be vaccinated against rabies and for 30 days thereafter. Adult dogs with a history of previous rabies vaccination (i.e., expired vaccination) may be released from confinement immediately after revaccination.
CDC recommends that veterinarians request the original rabies vaccination certificates (and English translations, if necessary) for any new patients. Veterinarians should strongly recommend that a dog be vaccinated against rabies by their clinic if:
Please direct any questions about rabies vaccine or health certificates to the local animal control agency. Clients may also be referred to the CDC website or the websites below for any questions regarding zoonotic disease risks (i.e. diseases that can be passed from pets to people), animal importation requirements, and traveling with pets.
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