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Aujeszky’s disease is an official notifiable disease which has not been present in domestic pigs on the Belgian territory since 5 February 2011. Belgium is officially free of Aujeszky’s disease.
The situation in Belgium
Belgium is officially free of Aujeszky’s disease in domestic pigs without vaccination since 5 February 2011. However, Aujeszky’s disease is still present in wildlife (wild boars) and is sporadically isolated from hunting dogs.
Aujeszky’s disease is a notifiable disease in Belgium. The cascade of notification is the following: farmer -> veterinarian -> control unit of the FASFC -> central administration of the FASFC -> implementation of the National Contingency Plan for the control of Aujeszky’s disease.
Surveillance in Belgium
Annual serological monitoring is implemented within the pig herd, except in the case of herds with outdoor premises or which place breeding pigs on the market (serological monitoring three times a year).
Control measures in Belgium
Vaccination has been prohibited since 2009.
Following control measures shall be applied in case of an outbreak:
- Determination of a control zone (protection zone: 3 km; surveillance zone: 10 km) and movement ban (« standstill ») of minimum 72 hours within this zone, for animals (unless for immediate slaughtering), PAO, vehicles and people.
- Determination of a vaccination zone of 10 km around the infected premises and movement restriction for every holding within this zone.
- All animal holdings must be registered and a census of every animal and animal product kept in the susceptibleanimals holdings within the zone.
- Establishment of biosecurity measures and a disinfection point at the entry/exit of the farm.
- An epidemiological inquiry is carried out: source, spread, timeline.
- Tracing of animals from the affected holding, in order to destroy them.
- Preparation of a broader, national, emergency vaccination.
The requirements concerning trade in live pigs regarding Aujeszky’s disease are laid down in Commission Decision 2008/185/EC.
All legal requirements are laid down in the Royal Decree of 12 October 2010 on the control of Aujeszky's disease and in the Ministerial Decree of 23 July 2013 implementing the Royal Decree of 12 October 2010 on the control of Aujeszky's disease.
More information on Aujeszky’s disease can be found on the website of DG SANTE.
Rabies is an official notifiable disease which has not been present on the Belgian territory since May 2008.
What is rabies ?
Rabies is a zoonosis caused by a Lyssavirus of the family of Rhabdoviridae. The virus is transmitted through the saliva. As soon as symptoms are visible, rabies in humans and animals is always fatal. Treatment must be initiated within 24 hours of infection, i.e. before the first symptoms appear. The incubation period depends on the type and location of the bite, the species that has caused the bite and the amount of virus, but is on average 20-60 days.
A distinction is made between two types of rabies, each with its own typical symptoms:
Symptoms in animals
- the incubation period is 2 weeks to > 6 months
- sagging and swaying hindquarters
The situation in Belgium
Belgium has been officially free of Rabies since 2001. The last case of rabies in domestic mammals was identified in a cow in 1999. The last vaccination campaign for wild foxes was performed in 2003. In 2007 and 2008, two cases of imported rabies were found in pets coming illegally from Morocco, but the disease did not spread.
Control measures in Belgium
Vaccination is advised for hunters’ dogs and dogs going to places such as camping sites, exhibitions, etc.
Vaccination, in addition to a valid European passport, identification by microchip and the proof of a correct immunization of the dog, cat or ferret against rabies, is still mandatory to leave the country, and even enter a rabies-free Member State of the EU. The same rules apply for every dog, cat or ferret crossing Belgian borders. The validity of the vaccination is calculated according to the instructions in the leaflet of the vaccine and is registered in the European passport. For an initial or so-called primo-vaccination this period starts at the earliest 21 days after the vaccination. Re-vaccination within the validity period is effective immediately; outside the validity period re-vaccination will be considered as a primo-vaccination.
Every veterinarian must notify clinical suspicion of rabies to the FASFC. Veterinarians must also notify illegally imported pets. Passive surveillance is maintained in the Belgian livestock along with the surveillance of BSE.
The last case of rabies in wildlife was identified in a bat in October 2017 (more information in Dutch). Since then, no case of sylvatic rabies has been confirmed. However, passive surveillance is still performed in Belgian wildlife. Animals found dead are brought to the national reference laboratory for rabies Sciensano for further laboratory analyses. Bats can be suspected of rabies when abnormal behaviour is observed:
- Active presence during the day (bats are normally nocturnal animals)
- Irregular flight pattern (e.g. low-flying, shocking, in freefall ...)
- Abnormal presence close to houses/animals (mainly flying into houses)
- Not being able to fly
- Not being able to grasp something (animals on the road, a bale of straw ...)
- Aggressiveness (the animal attacks)
Discovery of a dead bat or a bat suspected of the disease: who does what? Who should be contacted?
- As a private person:
- When someone has been bitten or there was skin contact: General practitioner/hospital emergency department -> procedure after exposure to the rabies virus
- The Wild Animals Network of his/her region
If there was contact between a domestic animal and a bat: LCU.
Rabies is a notifiable disease in the European Union. Official measures to control rabies in relation to the rules for non-commercial movement of dogs, cats and ferrets are laid down in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 577/2013 and in Regulation (EU) No 576/2013.
All legal requirements are laid down in the Royal Decree of 18 September 2016 on the prevention and control of rabies, the Royal Decree of 13 September 2014 on the rules for movements of dogs, cats and ferrets and in the Royal Decree of 25 April 2014 on the identification and registration of dogs.