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September 26, 2016

World Rabies Day highlights importance of prevention through vaccination

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) 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 an international event that seeks to raise awareness about rabies in order to enhance prevention and control efforts.

To help increase awareness about the importance of rabies prevention, DHEC is hosting a social media photo contest featuring vaccinated pets and livestock. South Carolina residents can submit their photos for a chance to win prizes and be included in DHEC's World Rabies Day photo album on our official Facebook and Flickr pages.

To learn how to submit your photos for the World Rabies Day photo album, visit, and join DHEC in the fight to #EndRabies. The photo album and contest winners will be unveiled on World Rabies Day, Sept. 28.

"Rabies is a deadly virus that is transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the body," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "Exposure can occur through a bite, scratch or contact with saliva to broken skin or mucous membranes such as the eyes or mouth."

In 2011, South Carolina experienced its first human death from rabies in 53 years due to an unreported exposure to a rabid bat.

Rabies in humans is preventable if treatment is provided promptly after exposure. Every year hundreds of South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies, due to exposure to a rabid or 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.

"State law requires animal owners to have their dog, cat or ferret vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian," Craig said. "Keeping your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccination is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can protect yourself, your family and your pets from this fatal disease."

To help reduce the risk of contracting rabies, DHEC recommends avoiding contact with any wild or stray animal - especially wild animals that are acting tame, or tame animals acting wild.

Additional information on rabies can be found at and Learn more about CDC's efforts on World Rabies Day at


DHEC Media Relations