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Norwegian Dog Tests Negative for Rabies but Import Concerns Remain

16 July 2015

NORWAY - The Norwegian Veterinary Institute has ruled out rabies after analysis of samples from an suspected case in an imported dog last week.

The 18-month-old dog showed behavioural changes and has bitten several people. The dog, now declared negative, came to Norway from Spain.

Mainland Norway has been free of rabies since the early 1800s. The deadly disease of animals and humans occur in several European countries, and the consequences of introduction of rabies into Norway can be large.

Researchers at the National Veterinary Institute warned of the danger of getting rabies to Norway.

In June 2015, their findings were published in the prestigious British research journal Veterinary Record.

The researchers documented that there is poor protection against rabies among street dogs from Eastern Europe imported to Norway.

"The current regulations for transportation of pets within the European Economic Area (EEA) provides a weak protection against rabies when importing street dogs from countries with rabies," explained Siv Klevar, a researcher at the National Veterinary Institute and one of the authors of the article.

The article shows that over half of 75 surveyed street dogs imported to Norway from Eastern Europe, mainly Romania, and had no protection against rabies vaccination in their homeland. This is an abnormally low vaccine response, and the findings arouse concern internationally.

Paula Boyden, veterinary director at the British charity The Dogs Trust wrote in an editorial in the Veterinary Record that these findings are equally relevant for Britain, where dog imports have increased by 78 per cent from 2011 to 2013.

"To prevent further contamination with rabies, dog bites should be followed up, especially from animals that have been introduced for less than 6 months ago from countries with rabies. After that rabies risk is minimal," said researcher Helga Høgåsen.

"The dog must be followed up for 10 days after the bite to see if it shows signs of rabies. If one can not breathe a sigh of relief - the saliva contains virus only symptom period or just before. Meanwhile a doctor should be contacted to assess the treatment of people who are bitten. If the dog is euthanised earlier than 10 days after the bite, the risk of rabies should be considered," she said.

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Further Reading

You can view the full report in Veterinary Record by clicking here.

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