Collaborating to save a life this World Rabies Day

The Hon David Littleproud MP
Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management

Australia is one of the few countries that does not have rabies and World Rabies Day is an important reminder to do our part to keep it this way.

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, has a clear message on World Rabies Day: Let’s keep Australia free from this deadly disease.

“This year’s theme focuses on vaccination and collaboration,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Every year more than 59,000 people worldwide die from rabies and 99 per cent of these cases are caused by the bite of a rabies-infected dog.

“That’s one person every nine minutes dying from a disease that could be prevented by vaccinating the dog population in countries with rabies.

“Rabies could be brought to Australia through someone illegally importing an infected animal, such as a dog or cat, including on an international fishing boat or yacht.

“In 2019, 4452 dogs and 1926 cats were legally imported into Australia – there is no excuse for not complying with our biosecurity requirements.

“If rabies became established in Australia, the toll on human and animal health would be substantial and lead to significant response and recovery costs.

“We are doing our part here to improve preparedness, early detection, and response options for infectious diseases such as rabies.

“This includes collaborating with counterpart agencies in Indonesia, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea, to support and conduct activities aimed at improving local capacity to detect, monitor, control and mitigate risk pathways for infectious diseases, including rabies.

“My department also has officers on the front line in northern Australia, conducting surveillance and engaging with stakeholders, particularly Indigenous communities, as important elements of Australia’s early detection and preparedness measures.

“It’s also why our strict biosecurity rules are in place and it’s why you must apply for an import permit and do all the required vaccinations and tests if you want to bring your cat or dog to Australia.

“Australia’s strict biosecurity laws have helped us become one of only a few countries declared rabies-free, but the deadly disease is present in many other parts of the world, with the hardest hit including Africa and Asia.

“Participating in World Rabies Day is a great way of making and sharing progress towards the elimination of dog-mediated rabies deaths by 2030.

“I ask all Australians to continue to play their role in keeping the nation free of rabies.”

If you’re planning to bring your pet to Australia or want to know more about how we manage biosecurity risks in Australia visit agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity

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