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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2016

Sumter County dog potentially exposes two people to rabies

COLUMBIA, S.C. - One person has started post-exposure treatment and another has been referred to their health care provider for consultation after potentially being exposed to rabies in the City of Sumter in Sumter County by a pet dog that tested positive for the disease, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today.

It is unknown how the dog contracted the virus, although a dead raccoon was found in the yard in January 2016. Raccoons are a primary carrier of rabies in South Carolina. The dog was not current on its rabies vaccinations, and began to show neurological symptoms on April 10, 2016. The dog was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on April 13 and was confirmed to have rabies on April 14.

Keeping your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can protect your family and pets from this fatal disease.

"Rabies is transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into a bite wound, into open cuts in skin, or onto mucous membranes such as the mouth or eyes," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services.

Every year several hundred South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies after potentially being exposed to the rabies virus. Once symptoms of rabies are present in an animal, it is impossible to tell by appearance if an animal has rabies or some other condition such as distemper or lead poisoning.

The dog from Sumter County is the second animal from that county to test positive for rabies in 2016. There have been 28 confirmed cases of rabies statewide this year. There were a total of 130 confirmed cases of animal rabies in South Carolina in 2015. Four of the 2015 cases were from Sumter County.

For more information on rabies, visit http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies, or contact your local DHEC BEHS office at: http://www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/DHECLocations/. CDC's rabies webpages can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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DHEC Media Relations
media@dhec.sc.gov
803.898.1127