DHEC: Puppy exposes 10 people to rabies in Rock Hill

The HeraldFebruary 6, 2014 

— Ten people will need treatment after one person was bitten and nine others were potentially exposed to rabies by a puppy that tested positive for the disease in Rock Hill, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Thursday afternoon.

"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," said Sue Ferguson of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "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 be vaccinated as early as 12 weeks old.

Officials didn't release specific details about the York County case.

There were 123 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2013 in South Carolina. There have been 11 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. The puppy is the first animal to test positive in 2014 from York County.

"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 and report the incident to DHEC."

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