Words by Cristina Hodgson
A WARNING has been issued for the presence of rabies in a dog found in Andalucia.
The animal was slaughtered in France after suffering ‘a sudden change in behaviour.’
The Spanish Ministry of Agriculture has confirmed that France has alerted to the detection of the rabies virus in a puppy whose owner claims to have found it abandoned on a road near Sevilla in January.
The man had been travelling through Spain on his way back from Morocco when he allegedly came across the animal.
According to a statement from French authorities, the rabies case was detected in Saint-Martin-de-Re, a municipality located on the Isle of Re, a tourist enclave in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
The animal was slaughtered on February 4 after suffering ‘a sudden change in behaviour, nervous symptoms and a deterioration in its health.’
The Spanish Ministry of Agriculture however, has not given credence to the version offered by the owner, and suspects that the dog had been brought in illegally from Morocco.
Especially given as the owner has not been able to provide precise information or ‘evidence’ of where the alleged discovery took place.
What has been confirmed is that the dog crossed Spain by land when it was already infected.
The arrival of animals in such a manner has triggered a wave of concern within the General Council of Veterinarians of Spain, which has recently been calling for mandatory vaccination against rabies for dogs, cats and other pets such as ferrets.
Currently, immunization is not mandatory in Catalunya, the Basque Country, Galicia and in non-dangerous breeds in Asturias.
According to the genetic sequencing carried out by the Pasteur Institute in France, the virus detected is of the Africa 1 type that circulates in the Maghreb countries.
Analysis of the nucleotides has made it possible to determine more precisely the origin of the virus, which is located in an area of central Morocco between Al Hoceima and Ifrane.
According to reports from El Pais, French authorities are keeping another dog from the same owner under surveillance and have ordered the 2,300 inhabitants of the island to keep all mammal pets (dogs, cats, ferrets…) ‘on a leash or in a cage’ until the investigations that have been put in motion, expected to last two weeks, are completed.
Those animals found in the vicinity of Saint-Martin-de-Re, that are not leashed or caged will be collected and put into quarantine.
French authorities in Saint-Martin-de-Re have additionally informed that the dog involved in the case was walked by its owner in the town ‘between 17 January and 3 February’.
A spokesperson called on ‘any person or animal that has been bitten, scratched or licked by this dog’ to contact the health authorities.
The last fatal case diagnosed in Spain was last December when a man who had been bitten in August by a cat in Morocco died.
The last native outbreak in Spain occurred in Malaga in 1975 and caused the death of two people.