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Vets warn of dangers to human and animal health – PETS or pests?

The risk to human and animal health were presented in stark terms at a symposium organised by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) last Friday in Birmingham at the BSAVA Congress.

The BVA remains concerned about the future of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). Emphasizing that the issue is not simply one of keeping rabies out of the country, speakers at the ‘PETS or pests?’ seminar discussed other dangerous parasites which are not currently endemic in the UK because of the additional protection PETS provides. Speakers made a strong case for maintaining this derogation under EU law which currently allows the UK along with Ireland, Sweden, Finland and Malta to apply stricter requirements than other EU member states.

One such parasite is the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis which is not currently present in the UK, although it is the cause of significant disease in many countries in the world, including areas of Europe. The audience, including medical research scientists and delegates from European and British veterinary associations, heard about the risks, particularly of tapeworm found in dogs and foxes, which can cause very serious disease in man.

Commenting on the symposium Nicky Paull, President of the BVA said “This is an important area where those involved in public health and animal welfare must work together. Vets and medics must continue to do the necessary research to be sure we can have in place a system of vaccination which we can trust, and to make the European Commission aware that there are good reasons for maintaining our current import restrictions to protect both our pets and our people.”

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