Search

Rabies fear as dog sneaks through port

PUBLISHED: 21:29 21 May 2002 | UPDATED: 11:58 03 March 2010

WARNINGS were issued today about the potential risk of a rabies outbreak if animals are illegally brought into the country.

They came after a German lorry driver was cautioned when a five-month-old puppy was found in his cab at the Port of Felixstowe.

WARNINGS were issued today about the potential risk of a rabies outbreak if animals are illegally brought into the country.

They came after a German lorry driver was cautioned when a five-month-old puppy was found in his cab at the Port of Felixstowe.

Suffolk County Council's Trading Standards prosecutors withdrew criminal proceedings against the man from Dresden who had contravened British rabies laws after he agreed to the caution.

However, they are keen to highlight the dangers of rabies and appeal to people to inform them if ever they see an animal that they suspect has come from abroad.

"We've just seen the effects of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease," said Roger Hopkins, assistant county trading standards officer. "But the effect of rabies would be much worse. It could be passed to wildlife and humans.

"Rabies can be fatal and is a particularly unpleasant way to die," Mr Hopkins explained.

"It can cause hydrophobia, a fear of water, and attacks the nervous system.

"We view breaches like this one with the utmost seriousness.

"We would continue to ask people to be our eyes and ears and inform us if they see a foreign vehicle with an animal on board or know of anyone who has been abroad and come back with an animal."

The German lorry driver is believed to have entered England at Dover on Wednesday , having driven from Dresden to Calais.

He then drove to Felixstowe where a port officer spotted the puppy, which he hadn't wanted to leave behind in Germany.

It is thought the five-month-old dog, which had not been treated with any rabies vaccines, had not been microchipped.

It did not have a pet passport and had been taken out of the cab at least twice while in Britain.

Following the driver's arrest in Felixstowe the puppy was put into isolation where it will remain for 15 days to see if it shows any symptoms of rabies.

Mr Hopkins said: "We will wait to see if any symptoms come through in that time.

"If the animal has bitten or scratched anyone and then shows signs of rabies we will need ensure those people get treated."

If the puppy is given the all-clear it will have to be re-exported to Germany at a cost to the lorry driver. However, if the driver does not pay it is likely that the animal will be put down rather than placed in quarantine for six months at the expense of tax payers.

Mr Hopkins said: "If the driver does not stump up the cash for the isolation the dog can be put into quarantine but at the cost to the British tax payer.

"We don't enjoy putting animals down, particularly if they are healthy, but needs must. If at the end there is no sign of him paying we will have no other option, unless suitable funding for the quarantine period can be found."

Britain has been rabies free for more than 30 years and laws and regulations are in place to ensure it remains that way due to limit the chances of an outbreak. It is a disease that can kill both animals and humans.

n If you have any information about animals being brought into the country illegally contact Suffolk County Council Trading Standards on 01473 584368.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ipswich Star. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Ipswich Star