Dog Bite Law Questioned as Rabies Back in Britain
British dog bite law has come under fresh scrutiny after three people were bit by a rabid dog in north-east London. Britain has long been deemed ‘rabies free’ but if cases increase, this status, and the country’s dog bite law, may change.
Three people have been given emergency medical treatment after being bitten by a rabid puppy at a UK quarantine centre. The dog had recently arrived from Sri Lanka, and had been admitted to the Quarantine centre based in Essex. The puppy died shortly after the attack.
Rabies is a deadly disease and the UK and Ireland have the strictest quarantine procedures in the world. Technically, the attack took place on British shores, making it the first by a rabid dog in over a centuy (a man was bitten by a rabied bat in 2002). Although the dog assault was said to be ‘traumatic’ public health officials are claiming that the attack proves the necessity of the strict UK regulations.
As the attack took place on quarantine control premises, it meant the health risk was ‘effectively contained’. The people who were attacked were under supervision, and so were able to be given emergency treatment which will reduce their chances of developing rabies to ‘very slight’.
Dr Dilys Morgan, a rabies expert from the Health Protection Agency, said:
“We understand that three individuals connected to the quarantine centre and rescue centre were bitten by the animal and all have received prompt protective treatment with appropriate vaccination.
Even if someone has been bitten by an animal with rabies, prompt post-exposure treatment following the bite is highly effective in preventing rabies.”
Rabies is a virus which infects the central nervous system. It causes spasams, fear of water, psychosis and paralysis. When untreated, rabies is fatal in nearly all cases. Most people die within months of being bitten by an infected animal.
Dog Bite Law Reform
The rabied dog attack has led people to ask about wider issues of dog safety. Many believe that although the rabied dog was contained, it could only be a matter of time before rabies is back in Britain.
Marianne Davis, a campaigner for the reform of the UK dangerous dog act voiced her concerns: ‘People get smuggled all the time, so why not dogs?’We need some form of micro chipping so people can prove their dogs are British.’
A wide range of organisations are calling for UK dog bite law to be re considered by the new government. Many animal charities have problems with the 1991 UK dangerous dogs acts – and the attack by the rabid puppy could be yet another reason for ministers to reconsider Britain’s dog bite law.