EU experts and authorities meet at Evira - Intensive cooperation needed in combating rabies


<div>The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira are hold-ing a meeting in Helsinki on 7-8 December, with the aim of enhancing cooperation in com-bating rabies between the EU Member States and Russia.</div>

The meeting is organised together with the European Commission. All EU Member States which have a vaccination programme for preventing or eradicating rabies are present. The future Member States Rumania and Bulgaria as well as Russia were also invited to join the meeting.

The agenda of the meeting contains a survey of the rabies situation within the EU and in Russia, financing programmes of the EU, experiences on Finnish-Russian cooperation, principles applied in combating rabies, and vaccination practices in different countries.

Rabies is a central nervous disease which may affect all homeothermic animals and hu-mans. The disease is usually transmitted via a bite of an infected animal. The main vectors are wild carnivores, such as fox, raccoon dog, wolf and badger, as well as the domestic cat and dog. Rabies can be prevented through vaccination. In the neighbouring areas of Finland in Estonia and Russia rabies occurs mainly in raccoon dogs, foxes and wolves, but it may also be found in dogs, cats and other domestic animals.

In Finland rabies is classified as an animal disease that is to be combated. Finland has held an official status of a rabies-free country since 1991. Each year vaccine baits are spread in the terrain along Finland's south-east border, on both the Finnish and Russian side.

Scientific cooperation concerning rabies between Finland and Russia dates back for sev-eral years. Even at present a veterinarian-virologist from the All-Russian Research Insti-tute for Animal Health in Vladimir, Russia, is working at Evira's Virology Research Unit.

More information:
Professor Liisa Sihvonen, Evira, tel. 358 (0)20 77 24570, 358 (0)50 553 9226
Senior Veterinary Officer Riitta Rahkonen, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. 358 (0)9 160 53280

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