Risk of rabies reintroduction into the European Union as a result of the Russo-Ukrainian war: a quantitative disease risk analysis

Tirion Rebecca Cobby*, Mark C Eisler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


The importation of rabid animals poses a continual threat to rabies freedom in the European Union (EU). Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the European Commission eased the rules on companion animal importations for Ukrainian refugees through derogations to the EU Pet Travel Scheme (EU PETS). As Ukraine remains endemic for canine rabies, this paper aimed to quantitatively assess whether the change in regulations affected the risk of rabies introduction to the EU.

Method and Results:
Transmission pathways for both EU PETS and derogations to this scheme were considered, as well as the scenarios of 100% compliance and reduced compliance within both schemes. Stochastic modelling was performed via a Monte Carlo simulation to calculate the median and 95% confidence intervals of the annual risk of rabies entry and the years between rabies entries into the EU. Following 100% compliance, the derogation scheme posed a significantly lower risk at a value of 3.63 × 10−3 (CI 95% 1.18 × 10−3–9.34 × 10−3) rabies entries per year in comparison to EU PETS where the risk was 4.25 × 10−2 (CI 95% 1.44 × 10−2–9.81 × 10−2). Despite a significantly lower risk as compared to EU PETS under 100% compliance, the derogation scheme was more sensitive to a reduction in compliance which resulted in a 74-fold increase in risk. Given this, even under reduced compliance, the annual risk remained lower under the derogation scheme, although this was not statistically significant.

The findings of this study suggest that a 4-month period of quarantine, as modelled for the derogation scenario, could reduce the annual risk of rabies entry. This scheme may present a viable solution for the management of companion animal influxes in future crises.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-525
Number of pages11
JournalZoonoses and Public Health
Issue number5
Early online date24 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors.


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