Spain officially declares rabies after 5 affected in Toledo

Veterinarians demand that compensation be mandatory in Galicia

A rabid pit bull bit five people in Toledo last day 1. Those affected are four minors (one is still in the ICU) and the father of one of them. They have been treated with the necessary prophylaxis to prevent the development of a lethal disease if not treated immediately. The dog was shot dead by the police and, after verifying in a reference laboratory that it did indeed have the disease, the Ministry of the Environment officially declared rabies in Spain on the 6th .
However, veterinarians do not understand why this measure has not been accompanied by the imperative to vaccinate domestic animals in those communities where this is not regulated: Galicia, Catalonia and the Basque Country. Yes, it is in the rest of Spain and, even so, the authorities of Castilla-La Mancha forced yesterday to immunize dogs, cats and ferrets again within 15 days in 56 Toledo municipalities through which the animal could move, which had been escaped when it bit the affected people. “It makes no sense that the ministry does not force vaccination in Galicia, where immunization is voluntary despite the fact that Galician veterinarians have been demanding this from the Xunta for many years,” Ana María López is outraged, President of the Official College of Veterinarians of Lugo.

Animals in quarantine

The professionals reiterate their request in line with this case due to the implications it may have for Galicia. The owner of the dog, who is in custody and accused of serious negligence, is Catalan, and the animal remained in that community for several days since it returned from Morocco and until it was taken to Toledo. But in Catalonia, as in Galicia, vaccination is not mandatory and that means that any pooch that has come into contact with the pit bull during that time may have been infected.

The Catalan authorities already have several dogs in quarantine, because, in effect, they were with the pitbull and present antibodies whose levels exceed four times what is recommended. But it will be difficult to trace all the cases. The seriousness of the problem is increased by the fact that the animals sometimes take several months to manifest the disease, during which time they could move freely. In Galicia, no one would require a rabies vaccination certificate from their owners, which is required in other communities.

Due to this “real” risk, Galician veterinarians are in favor of a “vaccination” that was decreed yesterday in the Toledo area and that will surely be inevitable in Catalonia. The head of Galician professionals, Xosé Uxío Rey, assures that the entity he presides has been demanding “four legislatures” from the Xunta to make the vaccine mandatory, “without success.”

Interestingly, it was mandatory more than a decade ago, although today it is a declining practice. According to Ana María López, in the province of Lugo immunizations fell from 15,000 in 2004 to less than 8,500 in 2011. And that reduction by almost half in seven years is “perfectly extrapolated to Galicia”, according to sources from the Galician school. In 2012, 55,000 people worldwide died from rabies.

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