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Dorchester County Puppy Potentially Exposes at Least Eighteen People to Rabies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 11, 2019

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today that 18 people have been referred to their health care providers after being potentially exposed to rabies by a puppy that tested positive for the disease.

The potential exposures occurred between Aug 22 and Sept 6 when the victims were either bitten, scratched, or exposed while having contact with the animal. The puppy was described as a small black and brown Shephard mix. It was rescued near Interstate 95 close to Mount Zion Road and Bruce Road in Saint George, SC. The puppy was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on Sept 7 and was confirmed to have rabies on Sept 8.

"Rabies is usually transmitted through a bite which allows saliva from an infected animal to be introduced into the body of a person or another animal. However, saliva or neural tissue contact with open wounds or areas such as the eyes, nose, or mouth could also potentially transmit rabies," said David Vaughan, Director of DHEC's Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division.

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals their space. If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it and contact someone trained in handling animals, such as your local animal control officer or wildlife rehabilitator," said Vaughan.

It is also important to keep pets up to date on their rabies vaccination, as this is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can protect yourself, your family, and your pets from this fatal disease.

If you have reason to believe that you, your family members, or your pets have come into contact with this puppy, or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Environmental Affairs Charleston office at (843) 953-0150 during normal business hours (M-F, 8:30-5:00). Be sure to immediately wash any part of your body that may have come into contact with saliva or neural tissue with plenty of soap and water and seek medical attention. To report a bite or exposure on holidays and/or times outside of normal business hours, please call the DHEC after-hours service number (888) 847-0902.

This puppy is the third animal in Dorchester County to test positive for rabies in 2019. There have been 102 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 108 positive cases a year. In 2018, none of the 100 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Dorchester County.

Contact information for local Bureau of Environmental Health Services’ offices is available at: http://www.scdhec.gov/EAOffices. For more information on rabies visit: www.scdhec.gov/rabies or www.cdc.gov/rabies/.

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Media Relations News Release Rabid Rabid Animal Rabies Statewide