Four people have been referred to their health care providers to undergo post-exposure treatment after separate exposures to a dog that tested positive for the disease in Lexington County, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.
A dog from the Monticello Road area of northwest Columbia with evidence of healed wounds around its neck was given to an adoption agency in the Irmo area by animal control. The dog was later placed into foster care in the Gaston area. During the course of its care, the dog bit two people and exposed two others. The dog was euthanized on July 23, 2015, and tested positive for rabies on July 24, 2015. Other animals that were in contact with the rabid dog have received rabies boosters and are in quarantine.
“It is always possible for outdoor pets to come in contact with wild animals. Having your pet up-to-date on its rabies vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your family from possible exposure to this fatal disease,” said Sandra Craig of DHEC’s Bureau of Environmental Health Services (BEHS). “If a pet returns home with visible wounds that might have been caused by another animal, seek medical treatment for your pet.”
“Time is of the essence,” Craig said, “A beloved pet might be saved if treated properly and in a timely manner. This is also important in order to protect the people who come in contact with your pet.”
If your pet is bitten, scratched, licked, or otherwise potentially exposed to the saliva from a wild, stray or unfamiliar animal that is behaving abnormally, make sure to handle your pet with care, and call the local EQC office to report this incident. You and your family can be exposed to the rabies virus immediately following the incident if the fresh, wet saliva from a rabid animal comes in contact with any of your open wounds or mucous membranes, such as eyes, nose, and mouth.
“Although wild animals contract rabies most often, domestic pets can contract the disease as well,” said Craig. “To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild. 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.”
“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,” Craig said. “Be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC.”
In 2014, there were 139 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in South Carolina. So far in 2015, there have been 83 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in the state.