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Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Traveling with Your Cat : From the Philippines to EU Part 2: The Rabies Titer Test

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(Quick link to Part 1)

[caption id="attachment_289" align="alignleft" width="245"]Nishi, waiting for her connecting flight in Schiphol Airport, NL. Nishi, waiting for her connecting flight in Schiphol Airport, NL.[/caption]

One of the EU's requirements for your cat to enter the EU territories coming from third countries that doesn't have favorable rabies conditions is the rabies anti-body titration test, also known as the Rabies Titer Test.

So what is a rabies titer test? There are numerous articles online that explains what a rabies titer test is and they can really go technical I often find myself lost. But in layman's term (and a very shallow definition :P), it's basically a blood test that measures your pet's immunity to rabies virus.

Rabies titer test must be done by an EU approved testing laboratory. Unfortunately, the Philippines doesn't have one. To get this done, here are my recommendations:

a. Get assistance from a veterinary clinic that has experience with pet export/travel.

- Although I believe that every veterinarian knows the process of rabies titer test and where to get it, I strongly recommend to go with a veterinary clinic that has expertise or experience on pet travel, just to make sure that everything is correctly done. This is by far, the easiest route.

b. Get ready for the costs.
- The titer test is something you should really plan ahead because not only that it takes time, this is also not cheap. In 2012, Animal House Veterinary clinic in Jupiter St. Makati, estimated the cost of PHP20,000.00 (about EUR326.00) for each cat, and may even give you a discount if you have a second cat. I'm not entirely sure if this covers everything, but I would advice that you call and inquire what is covered in their package. I didn't spend much time researching which vet clinic to go with and what their rates are but Animal House is by far the most reasonable and I'm comfortable with since all my cats were taken care by them since the day I rescued them.

So why is it so expensive? Consider the following process:
(A special note though, I cannot guarantee the accuracy of the following process if your vet clinic supports it. Please check with your vet clinic if all of these are covered by they package price.)

a. The vet extracts the blood from your cat and make a serum from it as the specimen they will send out to the EU accredited testing laboratory.
b. The serum needs to be in an airline and laboratory approved container.
c. The serum also needs to be inside a specialized box, approved by airline and laboratory, with a specialized dry ice that can last for 3-5 days to maintain the temperature of the sample/s so as not to spoil/contaminate it.
d. The sample/s has to be shipped overnight, or the fastest they can get, with a reputable shipping company.
e. The vet clinic arranges and pays the testing fee of the accredited laboratory.
f. The vet clinic also shoulders the fees for certificates and export forms needed to get the samples out of the country.
g. When the results are out, it will be sent to the clinic.
h. Eventually, when you are ready to fly, the vet clinic prepares your document requirements (Health certificates, export permit, EU pet export forms).

In my case, I have 6 cats to fly out so it doesn't seem to be cost effective to take the PHP20,000 package as I thought it would be cheaper if I do it my way. Meaning, I took care of getting the airline approved containers, arranged the lab tests in Australia (there are closer EU approved labs btw) and shipping. Nevertheless, the vet clinic (Animal House) still played a vital role in this process because they were the ones to extract the blood and get me the permits necessary to ship out the samples. They also assisted me with the document requirements when we are finally ready to ship out.

Some important information about rabies titer test that may be handy for you:

1. Your pet must have a microchip first before carrying out the rabies titer test. This is for identification and documentation purposes of the certificate. I was required to get this done first before the titer test.

2.  Rabies titer test results doesn't expire. Once it's done and you passed, it's done - provided that your cat's vaccination is always up to date. So never skip a vaccination. And, keep the original rabies titer test certificate please ;).

3. The rabies titer test should be carried out at least 30 days after vaccination and 3 months before the move. I find this part somewhat confusing so I'd like to elaborate on this.

  • If your pet's anti-rabies vaccination is not yet overdue, you can carry out the blood test. Re-vaccination before the blood test is not necessary since technically, the previous vaccination isn't expired yet. You don't really need to worry about failing the test provided that your pet gets his/her vaccines regularly with no lapse. But if you are in doubt, asking the vet is always the best thing to do.

  • If your pet was just vaccinated, you need to wait at least 30 days from vaccination date before you can extract blood for rabies titer testing.

  • Rabies titer test must be carried out at least 3 months before you move. Meaning, even if you have the titer test results, you can't just fly out right away. You need to wait 3 months from the date of the test before you can fly to EU. I'm not sure what's the waiting time for, but that's their policy.

4. Rabies titer test must be done by an EU - approved laboratory. I went with AAHL in Australia, but I then figured there were a number of accredited labs in South Korea and in Japan.

If you want to read more about EU's requirements for pets coming from a thirdcountry with unfavorable rabies conditions, please visit their site here.

Now on to part 3.


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