Health authorities fear that there will be a new outbreak of rabies, which has already been eradicated twice.
U.S. health officials have announced a one-year ban on dogs from more than 100 countries where rabies remains a problem.
Dogs from those countries already required proof of rabies vaccination. The ban is imposed because of an increase in the number of puppies being denied entry because they were not old enough to be fully vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
The ban will take effect on July 14 and includes the following Latin American countries:
Douglas Kratt, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, praised the decision.
"We want to make sure we bring healthy dogs into the country, especially if they become pets," said Kratt, a veterinarian in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
The ban applies to dogs entering or returning to the country, including pets or those brought in for sale or adoption. For example, if an American couple brought their dog to Belize, they would not be able to send it back to the United States unless the dog had previously spent six months in a country with a high risk of rabies.
About 1 million dogs enter the U.S. each year. The ban is expected to apply between 4% and 7.5% of that income, authorities said. There will be no exceptions for certain conditions, including guide dogs for the blind or foreigners traveling to the United States with their pets.
Most of the recently rejected dogs came from only three countries: Russia, Ukraine, and Colombia. But many other refusals led the CDC to ban dogs in all countries where the risk of rabies is also high, said Emily Pieracci, a rabies expert at the CDC.
Many of the rejections were due to fraudulent documentation claiming the dogs were older than four months, Piera CCI said. Dogs under four months of age are not allowed because rabies vaccines do not take full effect before the dog is that age.
Rabies is a deadly disease in animals and humans, usually caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system. It is most commonly spread by the bite of an infected animal. There is no cure once symptoms start, but it can be prevented by vaccination.
Dogs were once a common carrier of the virus in the United States. Still, the type that usually circulates in dogs was eliminated through vaccines in the 1970s. In 1988, a new kind of rabies was brought in from Mexico. Canine. It spread to wild coyotes and took 19 years to be eliminated.
The second wave of cases, Pieracci said, "highlights the fact that a single case of rabbi import could affect wildlife, domestic animals, and people."
Demand for dogs is believed to have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Americans sought furry companionship, Pieracci noted.
But some canine rabies vaccination programs had to be suspended or canceled during the pandemic, increasing the risk of bringing in a rabid dog, he added.