COLUMBIA, S.C. — A puppy that was brought to Florence County on July 17 tested positive for rabies on Tuesday, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
The puppy was found in Edgefield County, near Lanier Road in Johnston. It lived in Augusta, Georgia, from July 14 through July 17.
DHEC said it is collaborating with the Georgia Department of Public Health to identify additional exposures.
At least 25 people were exposed and have been referred to their health care providers. Six dogs were exposed and will be quarantined as required in the South Carolina Rabies Control Act.
The puppy was submitted to DHEC’s laboratory for testing on Monday and was confirmed to have rabies the next day.
“Keeping your pets up to date on their rabies vaccination is the easiest way to protect you and your family from this deadly virus,” said Terri McCollister, a Rabies Program team leader. “Any mammal has the ability to carry and transmit the disease to humans or pets. So, give wild and stray animals plenty of space.
“In South Carolina, rabies is most often found in wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats, but pets are just as susceptible to the virus. If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it. Contact someone trained in handling animals, such as your local animal control officer, wildlife control officer or a wildlife rehabilitator.
“If you believe that you or someone you know has had contact with or been potentially exposed to this or another suspect animal, please reach out to your local Environmental Affairs office. An exposure is defined as direct contact (such as through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth) with saliva or brain/nervous system tissue from an infected animal.”
If your pet is found with wounds of unknown origin, consider that your pet may have been exposed to rabies and contact DHEC’s Environmental Affairs Aiken office at 803-642-1637 or Florence office at 843-661-4825 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday) or after-hours and on holidays at 888-847-0902 (select Option 2).
This puppy is the first animal in Edgefield County to test positive for rabies in 2021. There have been 46 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive cases a year. In 2020, one of the 168 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Edgefield County.