NEW YORK—U.S. health officials Monday announced a one-year ban on bringing in dogs from more than 100 countries where rabies is still a problem.
Dogs coming in from those countries already needed proof of rabies vaccination. The ban is being imposed because of a spike in the number of puppies denied entry because they weren’t old enough to be fully vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
The ban goes into effect July 14.
The ban applies to dogs coming into or returning to the country, including pets or those brought in for sale or adoption. For example, if an American couple took their dog to Belize, they wouldn’t be able to bring the dog back to the United States unless the dog first spends six months in a country that is not at a high risk for rabies.
About 1 million dogs are brought into the United States each year, and the ban is expected to apply to 4 percent to 7.5 percent, officials said. Exceptions will be made for some situations, including guide dogs for the blind or foreigners moving to the United States with their pets.
Most of the dogs recently rejected came from just three countries—Russia, Ukraine, and Colombia. But numerous other denials prompted the CDC to ban dogs from all countries where the risk of rabies is also high, said Emily Pieracci, a CDC rabies expert.
Many of the rejections were due to fraudulent paperwork claiming the dogs were older than 4 months, Pieracci said. Dogs younger than 4 months aren’t allowed in because rabies vaccinations don’t take full effect before a dog is that age.
Rabies is usually a fatal disease in animals and humans, caused by a virus that invades the central nervous system. It’s most commonly spread through a bite from an infected animal. There is no cure for it once symptoms begin.