Rabid puppy exposed to multiple people, pets in Edgefield and Florence counties

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Jul. 23—A puppy found in Edgefield County, near Lanier Road in Johnston, has tested positive for rabies.

At least 25 people were exposed, as well as six dogs, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. The people have been referred to their health care providers, while the dogs will be quarantined as required by the S.C. Rabies Control Act.

The puppy resided in Augusta from July 14-17, DHEC said. It was brought to Florence County on July 17.

The agency is collaborating with the Georgia Department of Public Health to identify additional exposures. This is an active and ongoing investigation.

The puppy was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on July 19 and was confirmed to have rabies the next day.

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 was in Edgefield County.

"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, 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 a pet is found with wounds of unknown origin, DHEC asks residents to consider that the pet may have been exposed to rabies and contact its Environmental Affairs Aiken office at 803-642-1637.

For more information on rabies, visit scdhec.gov/rabies.

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