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Rabies threat to Western Europe

According to some public sector vets, the prospect of rabies re-entering Western Europe is a distinct possibility, with 56% of vets participating to an Official Veterinarians conference saying there is a high or very high chance (Veterinary Record, 2017).

The last major epidemic recorded was after the Second World War when fox rabies covered most of the region (Veterinary Record, 2017).

Although currently Western Europe is considered a ‘no risk’ area, 23% of the vets asked consider that the UK is at a high or very high risk of reintroducing rabies (Veterinary Record, 2017).

Dan Horton, a veterinary virology lecturer at the University of Surrey, warned that although the risk was low for the UK, it is still possible (Veterinary Record, 2017).

According to the APHA, early clinical signs of rabies include:

  • Behaviour changes – friendly animals may become cautious, shy animals may become bold

  • In dogs, a tendency to excessively seek attention and lick owners

  • Hypersensitivity to noise or light

If you suspect rabies, you must inform the APHA immediately.


Veterinary Record (2017). Public sector vets concerned about rabies threat to Western Europe. Journal of the British Veterinary Association, doi:10.1136/vr.j4508.

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