Keeping Australia rabies free

28 September 2019

Minister for Agriculture, Bridget McKenzie, said Australia was fortunate to be free from rabies, a deadly disease that kills dogs and people, but continued vigilance was needed to keep it that way.

“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,” Minister McKenzie said.

“Around the world one person every 11 minutes dies from the disease and we don’t want any Australian’s in that number.

“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.

“Rabies could be brought to Australia through the illegal importation of an infected dog or cat through our airports, ports or across our vast coastline.

“In 2018, 5914 dogs and 2484 cats were legally imported into Australia, and served a mandatory 10 days quarantine to make sure they were free of the disease.

“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 always improving our preparedness, early detection, and response arrangements through collaborating with counterpart agencies in Indonesia, Timor–Leste and Papua New Guinea, to detect, monitor, control and mitigate the movement of diseases, including rabies.

“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 tests by the book if you want to bring your cat or dog to Australia.”

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/cats-dogs