The European Commission has agreed with the UK veterinary profession that controls must be maintained to keep the UK free from the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis (EM).
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) have warmly welcomed today’s announcement that the European Commission has adopted a regulation that will permit pre-movement treatment for dogs travelling to listed Member States (ie the UK, Ireland, Finland and Malta).
In June Defra announced that the UK’s derogation from European pet travel rules, which allows additional protection for the UK against rabies, ticks and tapeworms, would end on 31 December 2011. The movement rules on rabies and ticks will now be harmonised with the rest of Europe.
However, due to the significant public health risk posed by EM, the BVA and BSAVA (working with Defra, the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe [FVE] and colleagues in Veterinary Ireland) continued to lobby the European Commission for controls on tapeworms to be maintained.
The regulation will ensure that a dog must be treated by a veterinary surgeon 24 to 120 hours (1-5 days) before entering one of the listed countries.
The BVA and BSAVA made the scientific case for a treatment window of 24-48 hours, but accept that the Commission had to find a compromise that would assist pet owners travelling during national holidays.
Commenting, Harvey Locke, President of the BVA, said:
“This has been a long process but the BVA and BSAVA put forward the strong scientific case for the UK to maintain tapeworm controls and we are delighted that the European Commission has adopted this resolution.
“In our role as guardians of public health, vets were deeply concerned that the removal of tapeworm controls would see the introduction of EM to the UK and Ireland.
“Although relatively benign in dogs, the resulting disease in humans – alveolar echinococcosis – is an invasive, cancer-like cystic stage of the parasite, and is invariably fatal if not treated.
“The next stage of our lobbying will be to ensure that Member States and MEPs from across Europe support the UK’s case for the additional controls.”
Andrew Ash, President of BSAVA, added:
“Echinococcus multilocularis is a significant public health threat and we have worked hard to ensure the European Commission understands the potential impact of allowing this zoonotic disease to enter our country.
“The BVA and BSAVA will continue to promote the best possible health and welfare advice for pet owners taking their animals abroad. Our advice to owners is to speak to a vet as early as possible to make sure pets are protected from all diseases and parasites encountered abroad.”