​Q: Dominique Bilde (ENF, FR) - Pet animals in transit and infectious diseases (2017-10-19)

Q: Dominique Bilde (ENF, FR) - Pet animals in transit and infectious diseases (2017-10-19)

Regulation 576/2013 governs the movement of pet animals within the European Union.

Rabies is the only disease for which health checks are carried out, based on a vaccination certificate whose validity requirements are set out in point 2 of Annex III to the regulation. The rabies antibody titration test is not required for animals originating in the Member States and Article 7 of the regulation provides for some derogations to the vaccination certificate.

These shortcomings leave the Member States exposed to health risks, given that rabies is still present in some Member States. Rabies is passed on by dogs in 90% of cases in humans.

The regulation does not provide for any health checks for other pathologies, such as, in particular, ‘Echinococcus multilocularis’, a potentially fatal infection that is often asymptomatic in animals, or babesiosis and leishmaniasis, which are endemic in some Member States.

1. Does the Commission plan to amend Regulation 576/2013 to step up rabies health check requirements for animals coming from Member States where rabies is still present?

2. Regulation 576/2013 authorises the Commission to take additional health measures by means of delegated acts. Does the Commission plan to introduce measures concerning the aforementioned infectious diseases?

A: Mr Andriukaitis on behalf of the Commission (4.12.2017)

1. In Europe rabies is predominantly of sylvatic nature and it affects primarily foxes. Rabies occurs in very few areas in a limited number of Member States, but is not endemic in dogs in any Member State. Member States occasionally report cases of human exposure to rabies in stray dog or cat populations of non-EU countries.

The elimination of rabies in wildlife by oral vaccination, supported by the Union budget, helps to reduce the risk for humans by diminishing the occurrence of rabies in domestic animals and lowering the risk of introduction via cross-border pet movement.

The Commission believes that the requirements of Regulation (EU) No 576/2013 are sufficient to guarantee a robust level of safety for the movement of dogs and cats across Member States. In particular, the verification of the effectiveness of the vaccination should only be required to further mitigate the risk of intra-EU movement of animals which could have been exposed to the virus in certain non-EU countries before their first anti-rabies vaccination.

2. There are specific measures in place to ensure the protection of Finland, Ireland, Malta and the United Kingdom  against the introduction of the parasite Echinococcus multilocularis . With a view to replacing those measures in the light of scientific developments, the Commission is in the process of preparing a delegated act supplementing Regulation (EU) No 576/2013 with regard to Echinococcus multilocularis infection in dogs.

In the absence of evidence provided by Member States, the Commission does not envisage taking preventive health measures for the control of other diseases at this point in time.