Gov. Ige Approves New Rabies Quarantine Rules

August 28, 2018, 10:36 AM HST · Updated August 28, 10:36 AM
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Governor David Ige recently signed new rules for the state’s rabies quarantine program, which prevents rabies from being introduced into Hawaiʻi. The main changes shorten the waiting periods for pet owners following the 5 Day or Less Rabies Quarantine Program, which allows pets to avoid physical quarantine in Hawaiʻi through a strict protocol of required rabies vaccinations and blood testing.

The new rules will go into effect on Aug. 31. The Hawaiʻi Board of Agriculture approved the new rules after public hearings were held statewide.

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

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

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“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 Hawaiʻi 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 Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture processed more than 16,500 dogs and cats entering Hawaiʻi. Out of all these pets, 90 percent of them were qualified to be released at the airport.

The main changes to the 5 Day or Less Rabies Quarantine Program are shown below:

RequirementCurrent RuleNew Rule
Minimum waiting period after
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successful FAVN rabies titer test before arriving in Hawaiʻi

Minimum waiting period after most recent rabies vaccination before arriving in Hawaiʻi

120 days

90 days

30 days

30 days

Fees
Direct Airport Release

5 Days or Less

Neighbor Island Permit

$165

$224

$145

$185

$244

$165

Under the 5 Day or Less program, pets may be released at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport if they complete all the pre-arrival requirements, which include:

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).

A microchip implantation for identification purposes.

Blood serum (OIE-FAVN) rabies test results with > 0.5 U/mil level of rabies antibodies.

A 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.

A Health certificate issued by an accredited veterinarian no more than 14 days before arriving in Hawaii 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, Kauaʻi and Kona, Hawaiʻi Island must follow additional requirements for entry.

More information on the new rabies quarantine program rules can be found on the department’s website.

Rabies is a deadly disease most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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 in the US are rare. However, the 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. An estimated 59,000 humans died from rabies globally.

Additional information on rabies prevention can be found by visiting these websites:

Hawaii Department of Health Rabies Fact Sheet

American Veterinary Medical Association  

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