AS THE government extends the Pets Passport Scheme further, rabbits, rats, aviary birds and tropical fish will be able to enter the country without the need for extended quarantine.
The new legislation will take effect from July 2004 said animal health minister Ben Bradshaw last week. The exact requirements for the new additions to the list will be announced in due course.
Since the introduction of the scheme in February 2000 for dogs and cats it has been extended to America and Canada and rabies free islands such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Cyprus and Malta.
DEFRA is seeking comment from the European Union in Brussels and whether rodents will be able to travel outside Europe within the scheme.
Commenting the opening up of the scheme to rodents BVA president Peter Jinman sounded a cautious note, There must be active monitoring of pets arriving in Britain. That is no longer so with cats and dogs.
Since the passport scheme was extended to North America, the monitoring has been passive. As a result, for the first time we are recording diseases such as brucella canis and leishmania infantum which can severely affect or kill people. We do not want to see the same thing happening with diseases that are in Europe but not so far in Britain.