Along with the millions of people fleeing the devastation in Ukraine a significant number of animals are being moved across borders into neighbouring countries. Such movement carries the risk of exposure of transported animals to unfamiliar diseases as well as the danger of disease incursion into the countries of destination.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Food Safety and Consumer Protection has launched a centralised platform to manage the processes of receiving, providing, processing, distributing and controlling the targeted use of humanitarian aid in a coordinated way for all animals.
The Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food is coordinating needs for livestock farms in order to ensure food security. You can find enclosed their letter, an appeal with contacts and a list of specified needs (e.g medication and vaccines).
Here-under you can find different species-specific information in respect to disease risk.
European Commission highlights deviation from usual import requirements
In a letter to EU embassies and national veterinary chiefs, EU Commission official Bernard Van Goethem, Director for Food, Animal and Plant Crisis Preparedness in the Commission’s Directorate-General for Health, referred to Article 32 of the 2013 regulation, which allows EU member states a deviation from usual travel regulations in exceptional situations. This can be used to develop new approval rules for “pets” travelling with people who are fleeing.
Rabies Risk assessment from the Germany National Reference Laboratory
The German National Reference Laboratory for rabies based in the Friedrich Loeffler Institute and its permanent commission for veterinary vaccinations (StIKo Vet) updated their communication (HERE) about the temporary lifting of rabies-related entry restrictions for pets from Ukraine:
Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine is violating international law and has led to a massive flight of Ukrainian citizens to the EU. The people fleeing from the aggression bring only what is necessary or important to them. Among them are often beloved pets. To enable them to cross the border unbureaucratically in this existential emergency, the European Commission has advised its member states to ease the pet travel scheme with regard to rabies vaccination. This concerns in particular the pre-authorisation requirement pursuant to Article 32 of Regulation (EU) 576/2013.
The Federal Republic of Germany has responded to this request (see also the homepage of the BMEL). For entry into Germany, this means that pet owners and their pets can enter from Ukraine without having to apply for a pre-authorisation. Those entering the country are asked to contact the local veterinary authority to determine the animal’s health status with regard to rabies and, if necessary, to initiate appropriate measures (e.g. issuing a pet passport, microchipping, rabies vaccination, antibody titre determination or, if necessary, isolation of the animal). This gesture of solidarity is explicitly supported by StIKo Vet.
Fox rabies is still endemic in Ukraine and the disease still occurred in unvaccinated dogs and cats in recent years. Nevertheless, according to estimations by the National and WHO/OIE Reference Laboratory for Rabies at the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute, the probability of an unvaccinated dog or cat being in the incubation phase at the time of entering the EU is about 1:300,000. For vaccinated dogs and cats, the potential risk of an outbreak of rabies is even lower. However, in cases of unclear symptoms and, if there is anamnestic evidence for a recent import from Ukraine, rabies should always be considered
The FEEVA disease surveillance network, existing of veterinary experts in infectious diseases from many European countries, looked at the risk for disease transfer in horses. The diseases of greatest concern form horses being moved from Ukraine into the EU are EIA (Equine Infectious Anemia) and Rabies. Vigilance is also warranted for Dourine, Piroplasmosis, Equine Influenza, EHV (Equine Herpes Virus), EVA (Equine Viral Arteritis) and Strangles.
FEEVA is aware of the problem that within the difficult circumstances, people may pass the border without horses’ health documents, sometimes in an illegal manner, and without the possibility to follow an appropriate quarantine period in the border country. FEEVA, therefore, calls for feasible import conditions respecting the disease risk, with quarantine facilities available. FEEVA will continue monitoring the horses’ movement and diseases situation in Ukraine and the border countries.
IDEXX offers free Rabies testing for the pets of Ukrainian refugees
Idexx provides diagnostic laboratory support free of charge for Ukrainian pets in case of Rabies antibody testing in the whole of Europe. Given the immediate impact in Poland, Idexx will provide additional free-of-charge Large Check-Up testing in that country. Depending on how the situation evolves, Idexx may expand this free-of-charge diagnostic testing.
Please be advised that due to the creation of formal travel documentation, on the rabies request form providing the pet ID is required (e.g. chip ID – microchip number). If not present, this needs to be created in order to execute the rabies test. Also, the travel certificate is a hard copy document that will need to be handed to the pet owner. Therefore, please make sure to be able to forward the documentation to the pet owner, as we will send the documents to your clinic.
In order to ensure the rabies test is free of charge, please write ‘Ukraine’ at the top of the submission form or VetConnect PLUS printout. In addition, Idexx asks to fill out a self-declaration once this free support ends on the 31st of March, and to email this document to your local support: firstname.lastname@example.org.