AVA suspends commercial imports of dogs, cats from Malaysia

Today Online 27 Sep 15;

SINGAPORE — The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has suspended commercial import of dogs and cats from Malaysia, in light of reports of recent rabies outbreaks in three Malaysian states.

The AVA has also changed Malaysia’s rabies risk category from “C” — for countries with controlled risk or low incidence of rabies — to “D”, which is for countries with undetermined risk of rabies, for the personal imports of dogs and cats. This means that these personal imports will face stricter pre-import rabies vaccination requirements and longer post-arrival quarantine periods in Singapore.

These changes have been in place since Sept 22. As of Sept 20, the disease has spread to three states in Malaysia, namely Penang, Perlis and Kedah. The AVA said that according to news reports, of the 39 dog bite cases so far, 10 of the dogs have been confirmed rabid. There have been no human deaths reported so far. Until the latest outbreak, first reported on August 24, the last case of rabies in Malaysia was in 1999. The authorities have reportedly culled over 900 stray dogs in a bid to battle the outbreak.

In a media factsheet released ahead of World Rabies Day tomorrow (Sept 28), the AVA said it has activated the delivery of 50,000 doses of animal rabies vaccines from the OIE Regional Rabies Vaccine Bank in Asia as part of its contingency plan. “Singapore would then have 55,000 doses of animal rabies vaccines for emergency vaccination in the event of an imminent threat or a local outbreak,” the authority said.

It also issued a set of FAQs to vet clinics on Sept 9 and vets have been reminded to alert the AVA on illegally imported animals and suspect cases, it added.