In a statement published last week, Belgium’s federal agency for the safety of food chain, Afsca, is reminding holidaymakers planning to travel abroad over the summer that they must get their pet vaccinated against rabies.
Although there have been no cases of the disease in Belgium since 2001, it is still present in more than 150 countries. The agency also warned that rabies is always fatal for humans. Rabies is mainly transmitted by cats and dogs.
Afsca said anyone travelling with their pet must be able to prove their four-legged friend has been vaccinated. The same applies to anyone bringing their pet back into Belgium.
Humans and animals can contract rabies if they are scratched, bitten or licked by an infected animal. Although there is a vaccine, rabies is always fatal once the first symptoms appear (fever, headache, loss of appetite, sore throat, nausea).
Afsca also asks animal lovers who are in the habit of petting and feeding unknown animals on their travels to be on their guard.
“Rabies kills 60,000 people every year, most of them children in developing countries where rabies is endemic. Belgian holidaymakers are not always aware that they are still at risk in some areas of Eastern Europe and tourist regions like Turkey and Morocco,” says Stéphanie Maquoi, Afsca spokeswoman.
The Brussels Times