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New Rabies Quarantine Rules Approved

August 22, 2018, 12:51 PM HST
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Gov. David Ige signed revised rules for the state’s rabies quarantine program which prevents the introduction of the rabies virus into Hawai‘i. The main changes reduce the waiting periods for those following the 5 Day or Less Rabies Quarantine Program, which allows pets to avoid actual physical quarantine in Hawai‘i by following a strict protocol of required rabies vaccinations and blood testing. The new rules go into effect on Aug. 31, 2018. The new rules were approved by the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture on May 29, 2018 after public hearings were held statewide.

Under previous rules, there was a waiting period of 120 days after the blood antibody (FAVN) test and a waiting period of 90 days from the last rabies vaccination before arriving in Hawai‘i. The new rules lessen those waiting periods to 30 days for both requirements. This rule change only affects the 5 Day or Less program. Pets that do not comply with the requirements of that program are still subject to the full 120-day quarantine if transported to Hawai‘i.

“It is vitally important that we protect our state from the introduction of rabies, not only for animal health, but human health,” said Gov. Ige. “These quarantine rule changes have been researched to maintain adequate safeguards to keep rabies and other tick-borne diseases out of Hawai‘i.”

“Many may not realize the importance of the quarantine program since we don’t have to worry about rabies because we live in the only state that is rabies-free,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture. “Over the years, the Department of Agriculture has continuously considered ways to make the process less burdensome for pet owners, while preserving the integrity of the quarantine program.”

In 2017, the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture processed more than 16,500 dogs and cats entering Hawai‘i, of which 90% were qualified to be released at the airport.

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Main Changes to the five Day or Less Rabies Quarantine Program
Effective Aug. 31, 2018

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  • Two rabies vaccinations, with the last vaccination administered no more than one year prior to arrival if it was a one-year licensed vaccine, or no more than three years prior to arrival if it was a three-year vaccine.  (The two vaccinations may not be administered less than 90 days of each other; and the most recent vaccine must be administered no less than 30 days prior to the pet’s entry into the state);
  • Microchip implantation for identification purposes;
  • Blood serum (OIE-FAVN) rabies test results with > 0.5 U/mil level of rabies antibodies;
  • 30-day pre-arrival waiting period between the time the lab receives the blood sample and the earliest date the pet may enter the state under the program.
  • Health certificate issued by an accredited veterinarian no more than 14 days before arriving in Hawai‘i indicating the pet is not showing signs of infectious or contagious disease and was treated for external parasites (ticks and fleas);
  • Found to be free of external parasites upon arrival inspection; and,
  • Required paperwork must be received more than 10 days prior to the pet’s arrival.

*Those traveling directly to Kahului, Maui; Lihue, Kaua‘i and Kona, Hawai‘i Island must follow additional requirements for entry.

For full information on the new rabies quarantine program rules, go to the department’s website.

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Rabies is a deadly viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. However, in 2015, about eight percent of the rabies cases involved dog and cats.

According to the CDC, human rabies deaths are rare in the U,S.; however, the estimated public health costs associated with disease detection, prevention, and control is estimated at up to $500 million annually. These costs include the mandatory vaccination of animals, animal control programs, maintenance of rabies laboratories, and medical costs, for postexposure treatment. Globally, it is estimated that there are 59,000 human deaths due to rabies.

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