3.2.6. Is/should rabies in animals be a notifiable disease in my country?

Yes. All veterinary practitioners should be aware of the list of nationally or sub-nationally notifiable diseases that infect animals, of particular public health importance or diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans, such as rabies. The local (e.g. at the district level) or national veterinary services can provide more detailed information. If an animal rabies case is suspected or confirmed, in most countries the public health authorities (alternatively the next level) must be notified immediately. At the international level, rabies is an OIE-listed disease. Countries that are members of the OIE are therefore recommended to regularly report on the rabies situation in domestic and wild animals, including disease control measures.

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OIE map showing the countries where animal rabies is a notifiable disease according to national veterinary legislation (2014).

Maps and information on whether rabies is a notifiable disease at the national level and for which animal species rabies is notifiable by national legislation are available at the OIE website. For trade purposes, it is crucial to know for which species notification and control measures are required by the national legislation.

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Example of a country and species table showing where legislation governs the obligatory notification of animal rabies cases

National veterinary services should aim for official notification of rabies occurrence at the international level (OIE and regional organisations) for both domestic and wild animals. Countries are strongly encouraged to notify international authorities of all rabies outbreaks, in particular dog rabies because it is the source of infection for the majority of human rabies cases. The frequency of notification depends on the epidemiological situation of rabies in the country. OIE recommends that countries submit a report every six months on their sanitary situation for all OIE listed diseases for both domestic and wild animals. If rabies is present in a country in domestic and wild animals, all animal rabies cases should be included in these reports. However, immediate notification may be triggered by unusual epidemiological events such as the first occurrence of the disease, the occurrence of a new rabies virus species, a marked increase in incidence, marked changes in clinical signs/virulence, and spill-over into a species or area not formerly affected. Similarly, in a country where rabies is generally absent (rabies-free or only a few episodes) every new outbreak not connected to a former one should be notified immediately. Read here about provisions on notification obligations of OIE members. More guidance on animal rabies surveillance is provided in Section 2.3 of the Rabies Surveillance Blueprint.

OIE = World Organisation for Animal Health

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