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Zoonoses Public Health. 2012 Dec;59(8):575-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1863-2378.2012.01499.x. Epub 2012 May 29.

European pet travel: misleading information from veterinarians and government agencies.

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Norwegian Veterinary Institute, Pb750 Sentrum, Oslo, Norway.


Inter-country travel of companion animals provides an opportunity for introduction of zoonotic pathogens, such as rabies virus and Echinococcus spp. Regulations are in place to control this threat, but Schengen Agreements mean that border controls between some European countries are minimal, and animals may enter countries without any checks that they have been appropriately treated. Veterinarians provide an important source of information for people intending to travel with their pets. We conducted a telephone survey to investigate provision of correct advice to someone intending to travel with their dog to Norway. Mainland Norway is considered free of both rabies and E. multilocularis and is a signatory to the Schengen Agreement. Ten randomly selected veterinary clinics were surveyed in Austria, Belgium (Wallonia), Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom. The information provided was scored as correct, incorrect or incomplete. The information provided by secondary information sources (website or government agency), which the clinic had referred the caller to, was also assessed (correct, incorrect, incomplete). Whilst the majority of clinics provided appropriate information regarding rabies, many clinics did not provide correct information regarding treatment for E. multilocularis. Less than one in 10 clinics provided the correct information regarding both pathogens directly at the time of calling. The correct information was obtained, once taking into account secondary sources, just 62% of the time. Countrywise, most clinics in Finland provided correct advice, either directly or indirectly via referring the caller to another source, whilst the majority in Belgium, Germany and France did not. The apparent paucity of readily accessible, correct advice for owners intending to travel with their dogs is concerning. The compulsory treatment regulations are only as good as the checks that ensure compliance, and this is also lacking in some countries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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