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3.2.5 Should rabies in animals be a notifiable disease in my country?

Yes. All veterinary practitioners should be aware of the list of nationally or sub-nationally notifiable diseases that infect animals, that are of particular importance for public health, or diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans, such as rabies. The local (e.g. at the district level) or national veterinary services can provide more detailed information. If an animal rabies case is suspected or confirmed, in most countries the public health authorities (alternatively the next level) must be notified immediately. At the international level, rabies is an OIE [1] listed disease. OIE member countries are therefore recommended to regularly report on the rabies situation, including disease control measures.

Maps and information on whether rabies is a notifiable disease at the national level and for which animal species rabies is notifiable by national legislation are available. For trade purposes, it is crucial to know for which species the national authorities require notification and control measures to be undertaken.

National veterinary services should aim at official notification of rabies occurrence to the international level (OIE and regional organisations) for both domestic and wild animals. Countries are strongly encouraged to notify all rabies outbreaks, in particular dog rabies, as dog rabies is the source of infection for the majority of human rabies cases. The frequency of notification depends on the epidemiological situation of rabies in the country. OIE recommends that all member countries submit six-monthly reports on their sanitary situation for all OIE listed diseases for both domestic and wild animals. If rabies is present in a country in domestic and wild animals, or in wildlife only, all animal rabies cases should be included in these reports.

However, immediate notification may be triggered by unusual epidemiological events such as the occurrence of a new virus genotype, a marked increase in incidence, rapid spread of disease (border regions to neighbouring countries) marked changes in clinical signs/virulence, and spill-over into a species or area not formerly affected. Similarly, in a country where rabies is generally absent (rabies-free or only a few episodes), every new outbreak not connected to a former one should be notified immediately. Read here about provisions on notification obligations for OIE member countries.

[1World Organisation for Animal Health


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Version 1 - Last updated November 2012