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Chapter 6Conveyance & Transportation Issues

Taking Animals & Animal Products across International Borders

G. Gale Galland, Robert J. Mullan, Heather Bair-Brake

CDC restricts the importation of animals, vectors, and products, such as trophies, that may pose an infectious disease threat to humans. These restrictions apply to some pets, such as dogs and cats, as well as turtles, nonhuman primates, African rodents, civets, and bats, as well as products made from these animals (see www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/index.html). Animals taken out of the United States are subject, upon return, to the same regulations as those entering for the first time.

In addition to CDC, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have jurisdiction over the importation of some animals into the United States. States may also have additional restrictions on the importation of animals.

ANIMAL HEALTH CERTIFICATES

CDC regulations do not require general health certificates for animals (including dogs or cats) entering the United States. However, health certificates may be required for entry of animals into some states and may be required by airlines in order to transport animals. Before departure, travelers should check with the public health veterinarian in their destination state and with the airline for any certificate requirements.

DOGS

Dogs are subject to inspection and may be denied entry into the United States if they have evidence of an infectious disease that can be transmitted to humans or if they have not been vaccinated against rabies. If a dog appears to be ill, further examination by a licensed veterinarian, at the owner’s expense, may be required before it is released for official entry into the United States.

Rabies vaccination is required for all dogs entering the United States from a country where rabies is present. Unless a dog is being imported from a country considered “rabies-free” by the World Health Organization (Table 3–14), it must be accompanied by a current, valid rabies vaccination certificate that includes the following information:

  • The breed, sex, age, color, markings, and other identifying information for the dog
  • Date of rabies vaccination
  • Signature of a licensed veterinarian
  • Date of expiration of vaccination (Rabies certificates have expiration dates that range from 1 to 3 years from the date of vaccination, depending on the type of vaccine given.)

Dogs must be ≥3 months old before getting a rabies vaccine for the first time. Since it takes 30 days for the vaccine to take effect, dogs must have had their first rabies vaccination ≥30 days prior to arrival.

  • If dogs arrive in the United States unvaccinated, CDC requires that they receive a rabies vaccine within 4 days of arrival at their final US destination and within 10 days of entry into the United States. They must be confined for the 30-day period until the vaccination takes effect.
  • If dogs arrive that have received their first rabies vaccine <30 days before arrival, CDC requires that the dogs be confined for the remainder of the 30-day period.
  • Older dogs that have had prior rabies vaccination may be given a rabies vaccine up to the day of travel. Dogs that arrive in the United States with an expired rabies vaccination must be confined until they are revaccinated.

Dogs that do not meet CDC’s rabies vaccination requirement may enter the United States only if the importer or owner completes a legal document called a confinement agreement. A copy of the confinement agreement (CDC Form 75.37) can be found on the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/dogs.html. By signing a confinement agreement, the importer or owner promises to confine the animal until it is fully vaccinated against rabies. Confinement agreements must be completed for:

  • Dogs not accompanied by a current, valid rabies certificate
  • Dogs <4 months of age
  • Dogs that received their first rabies vaccination <30 days prior to arrival in the United States

Confinement is defined as isolation away from people and other animals, except for contact necessary for the dog’s care. Conditions of the confinement agreement are as follows:

  • The dog must be kept confined at a place of the owner’s choosing, including the owner’s home, until a rabies vaccination has been obtained, until 30 days have passed since vaccination, or both (depending on whether it is the dog’s first rabies vaccine).
  • If the dog is allowed out of its enclosure, the owner must muzzle the dog and use a leash.
  • The dog may not be sold or transferred from the responsibility of the importer during the confinement period.

Routine rabies vaccination of dogs is recommended in the United States and required by most state and local health authorities. Check with state authorities at the final destination to determine any state requirements for rabies vaccination. State-specific information is found at www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/animals/animal_import/animal_imports_states.shtml. All pet dogs arriving in the state of Hawaii and the territory of Guam, even from the US mainland, are subject to locally imposed quarantine requirements. For more information about animal importation in Hawaii, consult http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/pq/travel-shipping-information/importing-animals-to-hawai%CA%BBi-from-the-u-s-mainland/ or call 808-483-7151. For more information about animal importation in Guam, see www.guamcourts.org/CompilerofLaws/GAR/09GAR/09GAR001-1.pdf or call 671-475-1426.

CATS

Cats are subject to inspection at US ports of entry and must appear healthy on arrival. If a cat appears to be ill, further examination by a licensed veterinarian, at the owner’s expense, may be required before entry is permitted. Cats are not required to have proof of rabies vaccination for importation into the United States. States may require rabies vaccination for cats, however, so check with state and local health authorities at the final destination to determine any state requirements for rabies vaccination. All pet cats arriving in the state of Hawaii and the territory of Guam, even from the US mainland, are subject to locally imposed quarantine requirements. For more information about animal importation in Hawaii, consult http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/pq/travel-shipping-information/importing-animals-to-hawai%CA%BBi-from-the-u-s-mainland/ or call 808-483-7151. For more information about animal importation in Guam, see www.guamcourts.org/CompilerofLaws/GAR/09GAR/09GAR001-1.pdf or call 671-475-1426.

OTHER ANIMALS, ANIMAL PRODUCTS, AND VECTORS

Nonhuman Primates (Monkeys, Apes)

Nonhuman primates can transmit a variety of serious diseases to humans, including Ebola hemorrhagic fever and tuberculosis. Nonhuman primate entry into the United States is restricted (see www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/monkeys.html). Nonhuman primates may only be imported into the United States by a CDC-registered importer and only for scientific, educational, or exhibition purposes. Nonhuman primates may not be imported as pets. All nonhuman primates are considered endangered or threatened and require additional FWS permits for importation. Nonhuman primates that leave the United States may only return through a registered importer, and only if they are imported for science, education, or exhibition.

Turtles

Turtles can transmit Salmonella to humans, and because turtles are often kept as pets, restrictions apply to their importation. More information is available at www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/turtles.html. A person may import ≤6 viable turtle eggs or live turtles with a carapace (shell) length of <4 in (10 cm) for noncommercial purposes. More turtles may be imported with CDC permission but only for science, education, or exhibition. CDC has no restrictions on the importation of live turtles with a carapace length ≥4 in. Check with USDA or FWS regarding additional requirements to import turtles.

African Rodents and Civets

To reduce the risk of introducing monkeypox and the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus, live African rodents and civets, as well as potentially infectious products made from these animals, may not be imported into the United States (see www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/africanrodents.html or www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/civets.html). Exceptions may be made for animals imported for science, education, or exhibition purposes, with permission from CDC.

Bats

Bats are reservoirs of many viruses that can infect humans, including rabies virus, Nipah virus, and SARS coronavirus. To reduce the risk of introducing these viruses, the importation of all live bats requires a CDC permit. Because they may be endangered species, bats also require additional permits issued by FWS. The application for a CDC import permit for bats can be found at www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/bats.html.

Other Animals, Trophies, Animal Products, and Vectors

Certain live animals, hosts, or vectors of human disease, including insects, biological materials, tissues, and other unprocessed animal products, may pose an infectious disease risk to humans and be restricted from entry. For example, goatskin souvenirs (such as goatskin drums) from Haiti have been associated with human anthrax cases, and CDC restricts their entry into the United States. Potentially infectious nonhuman primate trophies may be imported if they have been treated to render them noninfectious or if accompanied by a permit issued by CDC. In some circumstances, restricted items may be admitted with a permit from CDC for science, education, or exhibition (see www.cdc.gov/od/eaipp). FWS and USDA may also have requirements for animal products and trophies.

Travelers planning to import horses, ruminants, swine, poultry or other birds, or dogs used for handling livestock should contact the National Center for Import and Export (a part of USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service) at 301-851-3300 or visit www.aphis.usda.gov to learn about additional requirements.

Travelers planning to import fish, reptiles, spiders, wild birds, rabbits, bears, wild members of the cat family, or other wild or endangered animals should contact FWS at 800-344-9453 (toll-free general number), 703-358-1949 (FWS Office of Law Enforcement), or visit www.fws.gov/le/travelers.html.

For additional CDC information regarding animal and animal product importations, travelers should visit www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/index.html or contact CDC INFO by calling toll-free at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) or by visiting www.cdc.gov and clicking on “Contact CDC-INFO.”

RESCUING ANIMALS FROM OVERSEAS

Each year, travelers rescue dogs and cats from other countries and bring them back into the United States. Although done with the best of intentions, rescuing and importing stray animals from foreign countries create potential human health risks. The potential for bites and scratches among fearful and stressed animals puts the traveler at a higher risk for injury and infectious disease. Animals that are infected with zoonotic diseases may not show any outward signs of being ill. Therefore, all rescued animals should be examined by a licensed veterinarian both before departure and after arrival in the United States. If the intent of travel is to rescue animals, participants should discuss rabies preexposure prophylaxis with their physician.

TRAVELING ABROAD WITH A PET

Travelers planning to take a companion animal to a foreign country should be advised to meet the entry requirements of the destination country and transportation guidelines of the airline. To obtain this information, travelers should contact the country’s embassy in Washington, DC, or the nearest consulate (see www.state.gov/s/cpr/rls/fco). Travelers also need to be aware that such travel is not inconsequential for the pet, and there is often substantial morbidity and mortality in pets associated with such travel.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. CDC. Human rabies prevention—United States, 1999. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR Recomm Rep. 1999 Jan 8;48(RR-1):1–21.
  2. CDC. Multistate outbreak of monkeypox—Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, 2003. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2003 Jun 13;52(23):537–40.
  3. CDC. Rabies in a dog imported from Iraq—New Jersey, June 2008. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2008 Oct 3;57(39):1076–8.
  4. DeMarcus TA, Tipple MA, Ostrowski SR. US policy for disease control among imported nonhuman primates. J Infect Dis. 1999 Feb;179 Suppl 1:S281–2.
  5. Dobson AP. What links bats to emerging infectious diseases? Science. 2005 Oct 28;310(5748):628–9.
  6. Editorial: bongo-drum disease. Lancet. 1974 Jun 8;1(7867):1152.
  7. McQuiston JH, Wilson T, Harris S, Bacon RM, Shapiro S, Trevino I, et al. Importation of dogs into the United States: risks from rabies and other zoonotic diseases. Zoonoses Public Health. 2008 Oct;55(8–10):421–6.
  8. National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, Inc. Compendium of animal rabies prevention and control, 2009. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2009;58(RR-1):1–15.
  9. Stam F, Romkens TE, Hekker TA, Smulders YM. Turtle-associated human salmonellosis. Clin Infect Dis. 2003 Dec 1;37(11):e167–9.
  10. Wu D, Tu C, Xin C, Xuan H, Meng Q, Liu Y, et al. Civets are equally susceptible to experimental infection by two different severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus isolates. J Virol. 2005 Feb;79(4):2620–5.
 
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