COLUMBIA, S.C. - The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is partnering with participating veterinarians across the state to help residents protect their pets and themselves against rabies.
"Participating veterinarians will conduct rabies clinics to vaccinate dogs, cats and ferrets against this fatal disease," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "Vaccination fees in these clinics will not exceed $10 per pet.
"If you've added a puppy, kitten or ferret to your family, be sure to help them stay healthy by protecting them from the rabies virus," she added. "Talk to your veterinarian to determine when you should vaccinate a young puppy or kitten, as well as when to schedule a booster. Rabies is a threat to pets and humans, so all pet owners should have their dogs, cats and ferrets vaccinated as required by state law.
"Wild animals carry the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well," Craig said. "Unvaccinated pets that are exposed to the rabies virus must be quarantined or euthanized. The disease is fatal once the virus reaches the brain, yet the heartache of losing a pet to this disease can be avoided through vaccination.
"The contribution of local veterinarians to this annual effort provides a valuable public service to our citizens," Craig said. "Approximately 11,300 pets were vaccinated against rabies during these clinics last year.
"Rabies has been found in every county of South Carolina. We have seen a disproportionate number of rabies cases in wild animals from the Upstate and Piedmont," Craig said. "Anderson and York counties each had 12 cases last year, more than any other areas of the state. The cases we see, however, are the cases that involve infected wild animals and infected pets that expose people or other pets to the virus. We have no way of knowing how many actual cases of rabies there are in the South Carolina wild animal population. The best thing any pet owner can do in any county in South Carolina is vaccinate their pet and keep an eye on them when they are outdoors."
In 2014 there were 139 laboratory confirmed cases of rabies in animals in the state, including 70 raccoons, 33 skunks and 9 foxes. DHEC's interactive "Rabies by the Numbers" map provides information regarding county level confirmed cases of rabies in South Carolina, located at http://gis.dhec.sc.gov/rabies/.
DHEC-sponsored rabies vaccination clinics are now underway. To find a clinic near you, visit http://www.scdhec.gov/Health/DiseasesandConditions/InfectiousDiseases/InsectAnimalBorne/Rabies/Clinics/. For additional information on rabies, visit http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies.
Public Information Director