We invite you to comment on the draft review by 21 November 2022.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has conducted a policy review of the rabies virus risk in imported dogs, cats and canine semen from approved countries. This draft report is now available for stakeholder comment on our Have Your Say page.
Rabies virus is the most significant disease agent of biosecurity concern associated with the importation of dogs and cats. Rabies virus is exotic to Australia and infected animals can transmit the virus to humans. Once clinical signs develop, infection with rabies virus is almost always fatal. The World Health Organisation estimates that rabies causes tens of thousands of human deaths each year, up to 99% of which are due to transmission by infected dogs.
The current import conditions are based on the 2013 Importation of dogs and cats and their semen from approved countries: final policy review (2013 review). The 2013 review had an increased emphasis on offshore management for rabies virus to achieve Australia’s appropriate level of protection. This reduced the need for extended periods of post entry quarantine. This approach relied heavily on importer compliance and certification provided by overseas competent authorities.
However, since the 2013 review, there have been significant changes to the volume of imports and increasing commercialisation of trade. This has increased the rabies biosecurity risk for the importation of dogs and cats. Many countries, including Australia, have reported increases in detected and suspected fraudulent certification and other documents associated with companion animal imports. Consequently, a review of the policy was required.
The key proposals of the draft policy review are:
- All dogs and cats must be implanted with an International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) compatible microchip prior to commencing pre-export preparation.
- Dogs and cats must not have resided in unapproved countries during the 180 days prior to export to Australia.
- Dogs and cats from group 2 and 3 approved countries must have an identity check, which includes scanning of the microchip, by the exporting country’s competent authority at least 180 days before export and prior to commencing any export preparations. Evidence of the identity check must be presented as part of the import permit application process.
- For dogs and cats from group 2 approved countries, there is no change to the current mandatory minimum 10 days post entry quarantine period.
- For dogs and cats from group 3 approved countries, rabies vaccination must be current at the time of export to Australia.
- For dogs and cats from group 3 approved countries, an adequate rabies neutralising titre test (RNATT) laboratory report will be valid for 12 months only.
- For dogs and cats from group 3 approved countries, the mandatory post entry quarantine will be at least 30 days if animals have been prepared in compliance with the pre-export measures.
- For dogs and cats from group 3 approved countries, if required there may be additional post entry verification activities to verify compliance with the pre-export measures. In such cases, animals should not be held in post entry quarantine for more than 180 days.
The department invites comments on the technical aspects of the proposed risk management measures associated with the importation of dogs and cats by 21 November 2022. In particular, comments are sought on their appropriateness and any other measures stakeholders consider would provide equivalent risk management outcomes. All submissions received on the draft report will be carefully considered by Animal Biosecurity in finalising this review of existing policy.
To receive information and updates on biosecurity risk analyses subscribe to Biosecurity Risk Analysis Animal on the department’s website. Subscribers will receive biosecurity advice notices and other notifications about animal biosecurity policy.
Dr Peter Finnin
Assistant Secretary Animal Biosecurity