What to do if you think you were bitten by a rabid animal
A puppy found near Interstate 95 in South Carolina may have exposed 18 people to rabies, state public health officials said.
The puppy, “described as a small black and brown Shepherd mix,” was rescued near the highway in Saint George, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.
The 18 people were potentially exposed to the disease when they “were either bitten, scratched, or exposed while having contact with the animal,” DHEC said in a press release.
The state referred the 18 people for treatment, DHEC said. Rabies treatment for humans involves a series of shots over two weeks, started as soon as possible after exposure, according to the Mayo Clinic.
“Once a rabies infection is established, there’s no effective treatment. Though a small number of people have survived rabies, the disease is usually fatal,” the Mayo Clinic said.
The puppy is Dorchester County’s third animal this year to test positive for rabies, the state said. The county had no confirmed rabies cases last year.
On average, South Carolina sees about 108 rabies cases a year, DHEC said. There have already been 102 cases in 2019.
DHEC’s lab tested the puppy on Sept. 7 and the results came back positive the next day, the state said.
“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,” DHEC’s David Vaughan said.
“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,” he said in a press release.
DHEC officials stressed the importance of vaccinating pets. “This is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can protect yourself, your family, and your pets from this fatal disease,” DHEC said.