WHAT ABOUT PETS?
Animals can also spread pests and diseases, so it’s important to be aware of these risks, writes DR ERICA STEPPAT
Mostly, pets can travel freely within Australia. Of course, there are regional risks to your pets, such as paralysis ticks on the east coast of Australia, and heartworm in most parts of the country. Spiders and snakes also present a danger, but if your dog, cat, rabbit or guinea pig is bitten by a funnel-web spider, it will be just fine, as they are immune to the venom. But when it comes to the risk of spreading pests and disease, jetting around the country with your pet is carefree, except for a few restrictions.
Rabbits are illegal in Queensland because they breed like, well, rabbits, and they destroy land by digging their burrows. According to the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries Queensland, rabbits are “Australia’s most destructive agricultural and environmental introduced pest”, and breaking the ‘no rabbits’ law carries fines of up to $30,000. So, while they may not understand, Peter Rabbit and Flopsy won’t be able to go with you if you travel up north.
Dogs can sometimes be infected with hydatids, a type of tapeworm that has zoonotic potential, meaning it can also infect humans. It forms cysts throughout the body, and the only available treatment is life-long repeated surgery to remove the cysts. It is a horrendous disease. Sheep and dogs are both part of the worm’s life cycle, so if your dog is travelling or spending any time on a sheep property, regular worming for hydatids is an absolute must.
In an effort to remain hydatid-free, Tasmania has placed restrictions on dog owners visiting the state with their pets. Before a dog can travel to Tasmania it must be wormed for the Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm by a vet, who needs to also provide a letter as proof of the worming.
If you are considering bringing an animal into Australia from overseas, you need to comply with Department of Agriculture and Water Resources import conditions, designed to stop the introduction of diseases such as rabies into the country. For more information, call 1800 900 090 or visit agriculture.com.au and search ‘bringing pets to Australia’.
Educating ourselves about potential risks and taking appropriate action is vital if we are to prevent the spread of destructive pests and diseases.