New rabies quarantine rules to expedite process for pet owners

New rabies quarantine rules to expedite process for pet owners
New rabies rules set to go into effect this week will expedite the quarantine process for pet owners (Image: Hawaii News Now/file)
New rabies rules set to go into effect this week will expedite the quarantine process for pet owners (Image: Hawaii News Now/file)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state has revised its requirements for the rabies quarantine program to cut down on wait times while still preventing the virus from being introduced.

Many may not realize that Hawaii is the only rabies-free state, which is something officials have managed to accomplish and maintain through a strict set of quarantine requirements over the years.

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

The state offers an expedited quarantine program, known as the 5 Day or Less Rabies Quarantine Program, that requires pets to undergo rabies vaccinations and blood testing before arriving, which allows them to avoid physical quarantine in Hawaii.

Pets that qualify can be released at the airport when they arrive — rather than being subjected to a 120-day quarantine.

Under the old rules, even pets that got the blood testing were required to wait the four-month period following the antibody test and at least 90-days from their last rabies vaccination. This could happen either at home prior to relocating to Hawaii or at the Halawa Animal Quarantine Station.

Under the new guidelines, both waiting periods have been cut back to 30 days. The changes go into effect on Aug. 31, 2018.

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);
  • Microchip implantation for identification purposes;
  • Blood serum (OIE-FAVN) rabies test results with > 0.5 U/mil level of rabies antibodies;
  • 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.
  • 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, Kauai and Kona, Hawaii Island must follow additional requirements for entry.

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