Four Western Laurens County people are receiving rabies treatments after possible exposure to the disease from a family pet. The two adults and two children from the Ware Shoals area are undergoing post-exposure treatments after being potentially exposed to rabies by a puppy that tested positive for the disease, according to a release from SC-DHEC Friday.
Sue Ferguson of DHEC’s Bureau of Environmental Health Services said “To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild.” She added “About 275 South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures coming from bites or scratches by a rabid or suspected rabid animal. Wild animals carry the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well.”
Ferguson said state law requires pet owners to have their pets regularly vaccinated against the disease. Pets can receive vaccinations as early as 12-weeks-old. Noting that World Rabies Day is today (Saturday, September 28th), Ferguson said “now is a good time to remind South Carolinians to vaccinate their pets.” Regarding the case from Western Laurens County, Sue Ferguson added “This unvaccinated puppy was bitten on the nose by a suspect rabid skunk and died from rabies ten days later.”
“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,” Ferguson said. “Then be sure to get medical attention. It is always very important to report the incident to DHEC.”
There were 137 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2012 in South Carolina. There have been 92 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. This animal is the first domestic pet and the sixth animal to test positive this year from Laurens County.
World Rabies Day aims to promote rabies prevention and control through awareness of the serious impact of human and animal rabies, how easy it is to prevent, and how to eliminate the main global sources of the disease. Rabies in humans is 100% preventable through prompt and appropriate medical care. For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/worldrabiesday/.