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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2011

DHEC rabies vaccination clinics set

COLUMBIA, S.C. – This spring, veterinarians across South Carolina will join forces with the state Department of Health and Environmental Control to help residents protect their pets, and themselves, against rabies.

"Participating veterinarians will conduct rabies clinics to vaccinate pet dogs and cats against this fatal disease," said Sue Ferguson, of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health. "Vaccination fees might vary by clinic site, but no participating vet will charge more than $10 per pet.

"Rabies is a threat to domestic and wild animals as well as to humans, so we encourage all pet owners to have their dogs and cats vaccinated," she said. "The contribution of local veterinarians to this annual effort provides a valuable public service to our citizens. More than 35,000 pets were vaccinated against rabies during the clinics last year."

According to Ferguson, about 400 South Carolinians a year undergo preventive treatment after being bitten by a rabid or suspected rabid animal.

"Rabies is fatal once the virus reaches the brain, but pets can be vaccinated against the disease," Ferguson said. "The most effective way to protect pets and humans from the threat of rabies is to have all dogs and cats vaccinated against rabies."

DHEC statistics show that, in 2010, there were 106 positive cases of rabies confirmed in animals in the state, including 53 raccoons, 22 foxes, 14 skunks, nine bats, four dogs, two cats and one bobcat. Although there were no cases of rabies confirmed last year in Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Cherokee, Dillon, Jasper, Marion, McCormick and Newberry counties, positive rabies cases have been reported in every South Carolina county during the last decade.

Current South Carolina law requires every pet cat, dog and ferret to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. The owner of an unvaccinated domestic pet may be found guilty of a misdemeanor and fined up to $500, or imprisoned up to 30 days.

For dates, times and locations of DHEC-sponsored rabies vaccination clinics, see DHEC's website at: http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies.

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For media inquiries:
Adam Myrick – (803) 898-3884
E-mail – myrickar@dhec.sc.gov
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