The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will update policies on dogs and cats being imported and has asked for input from the public, announced by a notice on the organization’s website.

Dog and cat importation policies haven’t been updated for more than 70 years, the notice said, adding that, “Dog importation has changed drastically since that time and updates are needed to protect the public’s health.”

The notice said adjusted policies would “better protect the public’s health by preventing the reintroduction of dog rabies in the United States,” affect a small percentage of people and “provide flexibility to dog owners” to meet new requirements.

CNN quoted CDC spokesperson David Daigle: “These updates would establish an importation system designed to reduce fraud and improve the U.S. government’s ability to verify that imported dogs have met U.S. entry requirements.”

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The proposed policies

According to CNN, the updated policies could include the following adjustments:

  • Dogs from low-risk or rabies-free countries would be allowed entry into the U.S. with written documentation stating the dog lived in low-risk settings for the previous six months.
  • Owners returning with their dogs from countries with high rabies incidence would be required to bring their dog to an airport that provides a CDC quarantine station.
  • Returning owners would also complete a rabies vaccination form and have it signed by a veterinarian approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

More information can be found at Federal Register: Public Inspection: Control of Communicable Diseases; Foreign Quarantine: Importation of Dogs and Cats.

Public comment and feedback is open via the Federal Rulemaking Portal or through mail until Sept. 8. Comments via email will not be accepted by the CDC.

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Rabies

According to the World Health Organization, rabies is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system and can be prevented by vaccination.

Symptoms of rabies include fever, headache, vomiting, hyperactivity, difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation and “fear brought on by attempts to drink fluids because of difficulty swallowing water,” Mayo Clinic said.

“Once clinical symptoms appear, rabies is virtually 100% fatal. In up to 99% of cases, domestic dogs are responsible for rabies virus transmission to humans,” the World Health Organization added.

Although the U.S. was declared free of dog rabies in 2007, the disease continues to kill about 59,000 people globally each year, the majority of the victims children infected from dog bites, the notice said.