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Parliamentary questions
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16 August 2011
Answer given by Mr Dalli on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-006602/2011

Illegal trade in pet animals and their protection have already been addressed by the Commission in its replies to Written Questions E‑004525/2008, E‑003787/2009, E‑003343/2011, E‑006868/2010 and E‑002270/2011(1).

The control and enforcement of EU animal health legislation in relation to trade in dogs and cats are the primary responsibility of the Member States. Therefore, the Commission can only encourage Member States to take actions in relation to the proper implementation of EU legislation.

Rabies is indeed widespread throughout the world and responsible for about 55 000 human deaths every year; however 99 % occur in Asia and Africa. Most human deaths concern children under the age of 15 and follow a bite from a rabid dog.

In Europe, the main reservoir of rabies is the red fox which is at the origin of rabies transmission to other wild species and occasionally to domestic animals. Very few rabies cases in humans are reported in the Union and most Member States have not had any indigenous cases for decades. When human cases are reported these are imported cases from countries where canine rabies is endemic.

Rabies is a notifiable disease and available epidemiological data provided by 40 European countries are compiled by the WHO Collaborating Centre for Rabies Surveillance and Research (Wusterhausen, Germany)(2).

Member States with positive findings in their wild carnivore population have eradication programmes in progress that are annually supported by the Union budget. In the period 1993-2010 the Union has spent more than EUR 70 million for the eradication of rabies, namely to support the oral vaccination campaigns of foxes put in place by the Member States. These vaccination campaigns have led to a constant reduction of the incidence of disease in wildlife and of the geographical areas affected. Currently, the disease is confined to a few areas in a limited number of Member States.

Experience has shown that with the elimination of rabies in wildlife in the Union, occurrence of the disease is diminishing in domestic animals, making the risk of its introduction via cross-border pet movement negligible.


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