FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 6, 2014
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Ten people have been recommended to contact their health care provider for post-exposure treatment after one person was bitten and nine others were potentially exposed to rabies by a puppy that tested positive for the disease in the Rock Hill area of York County, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.
"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," said Sue Ferguson of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "About 275 South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures coming from bites or scratches by a rabid or suspected rabid animal. Wild animals carry the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well."
Ferguson said state law requires pet owners to have their pets regularly vaccinated against the disease. "Pets can be vaccinated as early as 12 weeks old," she said.
"If you think you have been exposed to the rabies virus through a bite, scratch or the saliva of a possibly infected animal, immediately wash the affected area with plenty of soap and water," Ferguson said. "Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC."
There were 123 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2013 in South Carolina. There have been 11 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. This animal is the first to test positive in 2014 from York County.
For more information about rabies, see DHEC's webpage at http://www.scdhec.gov/Health/DiseasesandConditions/InfectiousDiseases/InsectAnimalBorne/Rabies/, or contact your local DHEC BEHS office at http://www.scdhec.gov/Agency/Locations/. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's rabies webpage can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.
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