In late December the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an article in MMWR titled “Rabies in a Dog Imported from Egypt with a Falsified Rabies Vaccination Certificate — Virginia, 2015” which, because of its significance to human and animal health, is republished in full here and (except for the accompanying table available here).
To briefly recap the events, a rabies-infected dog taken from the streets of Cairo by an animal rescue group and transported with her puppy, 6 other dogs and 27 cats were imported into the US for adoption, arriving in New York on May 30, 2015 and then distributed to rescue groups or homes in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.
The infected dog became sick and was euthanized on June 5 after exhibiting signs consistent with rabies infection. The comprehensive public health investigation that followed revealed that the infected dog’s rabies vaccination certification had been intentionally “falsified to avoid exclusion of the dog from entry under CDC’s current dog importation regulations.”
In addition to the CDC, the investigation involved the following international, federal, state and local agencies: the Virginia Department of Health, the New Jersey Department of Health, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the foreign airline that transported the animals, the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
The cost of the investigation was not reported.
Eighteen (18) people received rabies postexposure prophylaxis.
While the investigators determined that the infected dog had been crated with her puppy and separated from the other imported animals, all the dogs from this shipment were vaccinated and/or revaccinated for rabies and held in confinement for up to 6 months. Additional dogs exposed to the puppy were revaccinated for rabies and held in confinement for a shorter period of time “as recommended by the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control.”
The CDC warns that:
[I]mportations of dogs, and potentially other domestic animals that are inadequately vaccinated against rabies, from countries where rabies is endemic continues to present a risk to an unaware U.S. public. Officials, veterinarians, and caretakers might be unable to verify the validity of rabies vaccination certificates issued before an animal’s importation.