NEW YORK – A rabid dog imported into the United States this month sparked a public health investigation in several states.
Health officials say a dog brought to the United States from Azerbaijan that went to find a family in Chester County, Pennsylvania, began to act strangely. He later tested positive for rabies and was euthanized. At least 12 people were exposed to the animal.
The dog was one of 34 animals – 33 dogs and a cat – imported by an Azerbaijani animal rescue organization to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on June 10.
The animals were not in the cabin of the plane or in the main terminal of the airport. Travelers who passed through O’Hare are not considered to be at risk, but health authorities are checking to see if other animals that came in the group are infected, and are still tracking the new owners of the pets.
Rabies is no longer regularly spread among dogs in the United States, but imported animals are considered a risk of further outbreaks.
Federal agencies are working with health authorities in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey and New York around the investigation.
It is the fourth rabies dog imported into the United States since 2015. The previous three were rescue dogs that arrived with rabies vaccination certificates that were later determined to be fraudulent.
This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that starting July 14, they will impose a one-year ban on the importation of dogs from more than 100 countries – including Azerbaijan – where rabies remains a problem. The ban was imposed due to an increase in the number of puppies denied entry because they were not old enough to be fully vaccinated.