South Carolina Residents Advised To Vaccinate Pets
Three Charleston County residents are under the care of a physician after being exposed to a chihuahua that has tested positive for rabies, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control said today.
"The dog was not currently vaccinated against rabies and fought with a raccoon in Moncks Corner about three weeks ago," said Sue Ferguson of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health.
Ferguson said once the rabies virus reaches the brain, the disease is fatal to humans and animals, so the people are receiving preventive inoculations. Additional individuals who might have been exposed to the rabid chihuahua's saliva are also being assessed for possible preventive inoculations.
According to Ferguson, 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.
"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."
Ferguson said this is the state's fifth confirmed case of rabies in a domestic pet this year, including three cats and two dogs.
"Therefore, to protect both the pets and their owners, we strongly encourage residents to make sure their pets are regularly vaccinated against the disease. State law requires that all pets be vaccinated against rabies. We encourage citizens to take advantage of DHEC-sponsored, lowcost rabies clinics being held in many counties this spring.
"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 first confirmed rabid animal in Berkeley County in 2009. Last year, there were five rabid animals confirmed in the county. In 2008, there were 166 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in South Carolina. So far this year, there have been 46 confirmed cases in animals in the state.