DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – The Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 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 news release stated that the potential exposures occurred between August 22 and September 6 when the victims were either bitten, scratched, or exposed while having contact with the animal.
Officials added that 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 September 7 and was confirmed to have rabies on September 8, according to the press release.
“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.