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Temporary requirements for dog imports from Singapore due to canine influenza virus (CIV)

​​​​​21 June 2018

The department received advice in mid-May of an outbreak of canine influenza virus (CIV) in Singapore.

CIV is a disease of biosecurity concern to Australia. It is usually a mild disease that improves on its own. However, it can progress to more serious health issues in puppies, elderly dogs or dogs with pre-existing conditions.

As a result of the CIV outbreak in Singapore, the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources worked closely with the relevant authorities in Singapore to develop temporary requirements to reduce the risk of introducing CIV in dogs imported from Singapore. The department continues to work with Singapore to refine these requirements, and is also fast tracking its review of CIV import conditions from all countries.

In the interim, the temporary requirements for the import of dogs from Singapore, which are in addition to the standard requirements for the import of dogs to Australia, include:

  1. Before export from Singapore: An official government veterinarian of Singapore must certify that:
      1. The dog was kept in a private residence for at least 10 days prior to shipment and did not have contact with dogs showing clinical signs of infectious respiratory disease or dogs that may have been exposed to dogs with infectious respiratory disease; and
      2. The dog was tested with a negative result for CIV (Flu A) by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on a nasal swab collected within the five (5) days prior to export; and
      3. The dog was examined within 24 hours of export and found to be free from clinical signs of infectious or contagious disease.

    1. After arrival in Australia: The dog must be tested with a negative result for CIV (Flu A) by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction on a nasal swab collected during its quarantine period in the post-entry quarantine facility at Mickelham, Victoria.

    The import of cats and other species of animal are not affected.

    Should you have any queries or concerns regarding the suspension please contact the department by phone on 1800 900 090 or + 61 3 8318 6700; or by email at Imports

    Provided below are a series of questions and answers relevant to this incident:

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    Are cats still able to be imported to Australia from Singapore?

    Yes. Cats can still be imported from Singapore as normal provided the required import conditions are complied with.  Infection of cats with CIV is uncommon, and they do not play a role in transmitting the virus. The department is satisfied that the risk of introduction of CIV to Australia by cats is negligible.

    Can dogs and cats still transit/tranship through Singapore?

    Yes. Provided the required import conditions are complied with, dogs and cats prepared for import to Australia in countries other than Singapore may transit or tranship through Singapore.  In this instance the animal must remain on the international side of the airport at all times and must be under the supervision of the competent authority in Singapore. Animals that travel through Singapore outside the confines of the international side of the airport (e.g. they travel by road from Malaysia to the airport in Singapore) must meet the conditions detailed below for a dog currently residing in Singapore.

    What are the options for a dog currently residing in Singapore?

    The department has worked closely with the Singaporean authorities to clarify the CIV situation in Singapore and to develop temporary measures to enable the resumption of dog imports from Singapore. The department is also fast tracking its review of the current CIV import conditions and the outcomes of this review will be considered when developing revised conditions for the import of dogs from Singapore.

    In the interim owners of dogs currently in Singapore may elect to:

    1. Prepare the dog in Singapore in accordance with the standard group 2 country import conditions and the following temporary requirements relating to CIV:
      1. Before export from Singapore: An official government veterinarian of Singapore must certify that:
        1. The dog was kept in a private residence for at least 10 days prior to shipment and did not have contact with dogs showing clinical signs of infectious respiratory disease or dogs that may have been exposed to dogs with infectious respiratory disease; and
        2. The dog was tested with a negative result for CIV (Flu A) by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on a nasal swab collected within the five (5) days prior to export; and
        3. The dog was examined within 24 hours of export and found to be free from clinical signs of infectious or contagious disease.
      2. After arrival in Australia: The dog must be tested with a negative result for CIV (Flu A) by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction on a nasal swab collected during its quarantine period in the post-entry quarantine facility at Mickelham, Victoria. The importer will be responsible for the costs associated with this testing, in addition to existing PEQ costs and fees.

        The Singapore authorities have advised the department that they will coordinate the export of dogs to Australia on one day of the week. The nominated day is Tuesday. This means that all dogs being imported from Singapore will arrive in Melbourne, Australia on Wednesday of each week.

        Singapore has issued a circular to pet agents, exporters and veterinarians in Singapore detailing the procedure and timeline that must be followed to meet the CIV specific requirements. Please note this is in addition to the standard group 2 import conditions which must still be complied with.

        This arrangement will enable Singapore AVA to coordinate the pre-export laboratory testing and final veterinary inspection; and will enable the department to manage the import of dogs from Singapore on an ‘all in/all out’ basis. This means that each week, all dogs will be exported from Singapore on Tuesday, will arrive at PEQ on Wednesday and will be housed in a designated cluster in PEQ. This will minimise the risk of exposure of dogs in PEQ to CIV in the event that a dog imported from Singapore subsequently tests positive to CIV during its time in PEQ.

        As a result of this ‘all in/all out’ management approach, it may not be possible for the department to facilitate all requested PEQ bookings in a given week.

        Once a PEQ booking has been made and confirmed, importers are advised to liaise closely with their government approved veterinarian in Singapore to ensure logistical arrangements for the preparation of a dog for export to Australia meet the requirements in accordance with the import permit.

    2. Move the dog to an approved group 2 country, apply for a new permit/ apply to vary the existing import permit and recommence the import preparations. You must be able to demonstrate that the dog has been continuously resident in Australia; a group 1 country or a group 2 country (or combination thereof) and has not been to or travelled through a group 3 country or non-approved country for at least 180 days prior to export to Australia.
      Please note that if you choose to move your dog to another approved group 2 country:
      1. The animal must travel direct or only via another group 2 country – it cannot tranship through a group 3 approved country or a non-approved country.
      2. You must check with the destination country as to their import conditions for dogs from Singapore. The department is not able to provide you with advice as to another countries import conditions or whether they will accept dogs from Singapore.
      3. You must check with the authority of the destination country what evidence they will require to be satisfied that the animal has spent up to 180 days continuously resident in Australia; a group 1 country or a group 2 country (or combination thereof) and has not been to or travelled through a group 3 country or non-approved country for at least 180 days prior to export to Australia– they may require a signed and endorsed statement from the Singaporean Government.
    3. Move the dog to an approved group 3 country, apply for a new permit/ apply to vary the existing import permit and recommence the import preparations. If this option is chosen, you may opt to arrange for the dog to undergo the rabies preparation before moving the dog from Singapore (steps 4 and 5 of the step by step guide) and before applying for a new permit/ apply to vary the existing import permit. If you complete all rabies preparation before leaving Singapore you may avoid a significant amount of waiting time later in the group 3 country. You will need to:
      1. Be able to verify that the dog has been continuously resident in Australia; a group 1 country or a group 2 country (or combination thereof) and has not been to or travelled through a group 3 country or non-approved country for at least 180 days prior to export to Australia. With any new import permit application or variation, you must submit independent and verifiable evidence that the animal has been continuously resident in Australia; a group 1 country or a group 2 country (or combination thereof) and has not been to or travelled through a group 3 country or non-approved country for at least 180 days prior to export to Australia before departure to the group 3 country.
      2. Identify the group 3 country you intend to move the dog to and check with the competent authority in that country which rabies laboratory they will accept rabies neutralising antibody titre (RNAT) test results from. Acceptable RNAT test types are the fluorescent antibody virus neutralisation (FAVN) test or a rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test (RFFIT) – these tests are not believed to be available in Singapore.
      3. Vaccinate the dog in accordance with the requirements detailed in step 4 of the step-by-step guide.
      4. Collect the blood sample from the dog and send it to the relevant laboratory
      5. If the RNAT test returns an acceptable and compliant result, apply for a new permit/ apply to vary the existing import permit to import the dog from the group 3 country and move the animal there from Singapore to undergo all further tests, treatments and examinations required by the import permit.

    Given the potential complexities, enquiries should be directed in writing to imports.

    Canine Influenza Virus (CIV)

    Information relating to CIV is provided below. 

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    What is Canine Influenza Virus (CIV)?

    Canine influenza (aka dog flu) is a highly contagious respiratory disease of dogs caused by canine influenza virus (CIV).

    CIV is a disease of biosecurity concern to Australia.

    There is no evidence that CIV can infect humans.

    There are two subtypes of CIV – H3N8 and H3N2. H3N2 is the currently circulating subtype in the US and some parts of Asia.

    Recently CIV has been spreading to other countries and there has been confirmed detection of a dog with this infection that was detained at the post-entry quarantine facility by the Australian government.

    How is it transmitted?

    CIV is transmitted by contact with infectious material such as nasal, oral and ocular secretions spread by coughing and sneezing dogs. The virus can also be transmitted via contaminated objects such as clothing (including footwear), food bowls, leads, bedding, toys and environmental surfaces.

    What are the symptoms?

    The incubation period (time from exposure to the virus until showing signs of disease) for CIV ranges from 2 – 5 days.

    Dogs are highly infectious to other dogs. Peak shedding of the virus from infected dogs occurs before signs of disease become apparent. Shedding of the virus continues for up to ten days after dogs become sick. 

    Some infected dogs may never show clinical signs and can act as silent shedders of the virus. Clinical signs in infected dogs include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, reduced appetite, fever and lethargy. In severe cases, which are more likely in very young, very old, or animals with pre-existing conditions, the virus can cause pneumonia and death if not treated.

    How it is treated?

    CIV is usually a mild disease that improves on its own. It can progress to more serious health issues in puppies, elderly or dogs with pre-existing conditions.

    Some veterinarians may choose to treat affected dogs with antibiotics, depending on the situation and the individual dog’s condition.

    Can it be prevented?

    Good hygiene and isolation protocols are required to prevent the spread of the disease. This includes hand washing and disinfection of shared equipment (brushes, etc.) for owners and dog handlers.

    CIV vaccination is not currently available in Australia. While there are vaccinations available for some strains of CIV in some other countries, they may not prevent the disease in all cases but are effective at minimising the severity of an infection.

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