Skip to content
News Releases

Oct. 14, 2011

Richland County residents advised to vaccinate pets against rabies, avoid stray animals

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A Richland County child who was bitten by a stray dog is under the care of a physician after the animal tested positive for rabies, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

"The stray dog ran up to the child and bit her on the lip," said Sue Ferguson of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health.

According to Ferguson, once the rabies virus reaches the brain, the disease is fatal to humans and animals. Anyone bitten, scratched or otherwise exposed to the saliva of a rabid animal must undergo immediate measures to stop the virus from reaching the brain. The girl is receiving preventive inoculations.

"Avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," Ferguson said. "About 400 South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures from being bitten or scratched by a rabid or suspected rabid animal. Wild animals carry the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well. Stray animals should be avoided as they can carry the disease.

"Therefore, to protect both the pets and their owners, residents should make sure their pets are regularly vaccinated against the disease. State law requires that all pets be vaccinated against rabies.

"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," she said. "Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC."

This is the third confirmed rabid animal in Richland County in 2011. Last year, there was one rabid animal confirmed in the county. In 2010, there were 106 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in South Carolina. So far this year, there have been 89 confirmed cases in animals in the state.

For more information about rabies, see DHEC's webpage at: or contact DHEC’s Richland County Environmental Health Office (803) 576-2910. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's webpage about rabies can be found at:


For more information:
Adam Myrick – (803) 898-3884
Email –