World Rabies Day on September 28, 2009


<p>Rabies, is a lethal virus disease of the central nervous system that generally infects mammals via animal bites, and can spread from animals to people. Rabies is present all over the world. More than 55 000 people annually are estimated to die from rabies, mostly in Africa and Asia. People usually are infected with rabies after having been bitten by a sick animal, typically a dog. Endemic rabies still occurs in many countries in Eastern Europe where disease cases in the previous years alarmingly are getting more common.</p>

However, in many European countries the systematic fight against this disease has been efficient and fewer cases of rabies in wild animals also has resulted in fewer among domestic animals. Vaccination of domestic animals and small predators is the most important method of fighting rabies.

Monday 28.9.2009 is World Rabies Day.

Finland is free of rabies
Finland decisively has been fighting rabies for decades. The latest cases of endemic rabies in Finland were found in 1988 to 1989 when the disease crossed the country’s borders and mostly infected foxes and racoon dogs in southeastern Finland. The disease was eradicated among wild animals through bait vaccination. Finland has been free of rabies since 1991. The object henceforth is that the country is to remain free of the disease. Neither rabies last summer being found in a bat in Finland affects this freedom of the disease, nor previously observed sporadic cases among imported animals.

Fighting against rabies is through vaccination and analyses of suspicious cases
Objectives are to prevent by vaccination the spreading with wild animals of rabies to Finland. Each spring and autumn, Finland lays out 80 000 bait vaccines for racoon dogs and foxes along the southeastern border. Evira manages the spreading of these vaccines. Russia also, their side the border, jointly with Finland vaccinates small predators.

Evira regularly investigates for rabies wild and other animals having suspicious symptoms. Observations of free-living foxes, racoon dogs, wolves or other animals behaving out the ordinary are to be reported to the municipal or provincial veterinary officer concerned. Samples of small predators delivered by hunters are necessary for controlling that the country remains free of rabies. Evira also investigates dead bats and those behaving weirdly for presence of rabies.

Vaccinate your pets
Dogs used in burrow hunting are to be vaccinated against rabies each year, and other dogs used in hunting and official service dogs at least every second year. In addition, Evira recommends regular vaccination of pet dogs and cats in this country.

The regulations on pet imports must be respected
Imported dogs and cats may carry rabies to Finland if they lack vaccinations. When importing dogs, cats and ferrets to Finland, it is required, among other things, depending on the import country, that the animal has a valid vaccination against rabies, or has a rabies vaccination and been examined for sufficient antibody levels.

The risk of rabies is significant if a dog or cat contrary to regulations is imported from a country with endemic rabies. This risk particularly is great if the animal’s background is unknown, which goes for found dogs, or stray dogs and cats. In worst cases, import of such animals to Finland may present hazards to the owner and their family and friends.

Additional information:
Head of Section Miia Jakava-Viljanen, Veterinary Virology Research Unit,
tel. 02077 24587, 050 351 0308
Senior Officer Virva Valle (animal import), Animal Health and Welfare Unit,
tel. 02077 24309, 040 489 3359
Researcher Marja Isomursu, Fish and Wildlife Health Research Unit,
tel. 02077 24910, 040 512 1248

Service phone for advice on animal imports and exports: 020 690 991 (9:00 to 11:00 pm),
e-mail ehyt

Additional information via the Internet:
World Rabies Day

Presence of rabies, and world regions with infection risks (WHO)  

Rabies and symptoms in animals > Eläimet ja terveys > Eläintaudit > Rabies  (in Finnish)

Instructions on importing dogs, cats and ferrets > Animals and health > Import and export

Information on fighting rabies, vaccinations, and antibody investigations > Eläintauti- ja elintarviketutkimus > Eläintautitutkimus > Seurantatutkimukset > Raivotaudin seuranta ja vastustaminen (in Finnish)

Instructions on sending in small > Research on animal diseases and food > Animal diseases research > Packing and sending instructions > Sending small predators 


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