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Quantitative risk assessment of rabies entering Great Britain from North America via cats and dogs

Jones, Rowena D. and Kelly, L.A. and Fooks, A.R. and Wooldridge, M. (2005) Quantitative risk assessment of rabies entering Great Britain from North America via cats and dogs. Risk Analysis, 25 (3). pp. 533-542. ISSN 0272-4332

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Great Britain has been rabies-free since 1922, which is often considered to be in part due to the strict laws requiring that imported cats and dogs be vaccinated and quarantined for 6 months immediately on entry into the country. Except for two isolated incidents, this quarantine policy has contributed to ensuring that Great Britain has remained free of rabies. In 2000, amendments to the UK quarantine laws were made and the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) was launched for companion animals traveling from European Union countries and rabies-free islands. Since its introduction, it has been proposed that other countries including North America should be included within the UK scheme. A quantitative risk assessment was developed to assist in the policy decision to amend the long-standing quarantine laws for dogs and cats from North America. It was determined that the risk of rabies entry is very low and is dependent on the level of compliance (i.e., legally conforming to all of the required regulations) with PETS and the number of pets imported. Assuming 100% compliance with PETS and the current level of importation of cats and dogs from North America, the annual probability of importing rabies is lower for animals traveling via PETS (7.22 × 10-6, 95th percentile) than quarantine (1.01 × 10-5, 95th percentile). These results, and other scientific evidence, directly informed the decision to expand the PETS scheme to North America as of December 2002.