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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 24, 2015

World Rabies Day highlights importance of prevention

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control will join other health agencies on Sept. 28 to mark World Rabies Day in an effort to end rabies, the agency announced today. World Rabies Day is a global health observance that seeks to raise awareness about rabies and enhance prevention and control efforts.

"Rabies is a deadly virus that can be passed to people and pets by wild animals, livestock, pets and other mammals," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "Each year in our state, approximately 275 people undergo post-exposure treatment after being exposed to a rabid or a suspected rabid animal."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that as many as 40,000 people in the United States receive rabies post-exposure treatment each year with annual public health costs being upwards of $300 million.

Rabies in humans is preventable if treatment is received promptly after exposure.  In 2011, South Carolina experienced its first human death from rabies in 53 years due to an unreported exposure to a rabid bat.

 "It is important to the health of your pet, your family and you that pet vaccinations are kept up-to-date," said Craig. "State law requires people to have their dog, cat or ferret vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. If you are bitten or scratched by a wild or domestic animal, clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to your local DHEC office."

To reduce the risk of getting rabies, DHEC recommends avoiding contact with any wild animals - especially those that appear to be acting tame - or tame animals acting wild. 

To help drive awareness about the importance of rabies prevention, DHEC is hosting a social media photo event featuring vaccinated pets and livestock. South Carolina residents can submit photos of their vaccinated pets or livestock for inclusion in an online photo album to show how they are helping to #EndRabies. The album will be featured on DHEC's Facebook and Flickr pages on World Rabies Day, Sept. 28.

To learn more about how to submit a photo for the World Rabies Day photo album and to learn more about rabies in SC and ways to prevent it, visit www.scdhec.gov/rabies. Additional information on rabies and the CDC's efforts for World Rabies Day can be found at www.cdc.gov/rabies/ and www.cdc.gov/worldrabiesday/.

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Robert Yanity
Public Information Officer
yanityrm@dhec.sc.gov
803.898.1617