SOUTH CAROLINA (WFXG) - Officials at the South Carolina Department of Environmental Control are warning people in the state about being exposed to rabies. This year, 41 people in South Carolina have reported being exposed to rabies and around 5 people were exposed just last week.
This week, the DHEC reported possible rabies exposures in Colleton, Sumter, Aiken, and Berkeley Counties.
Officials say death associated with rabies occurs in people who fail to seek medical assistance, normally because they were unaware of their exposure.
"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," said David Vaughan, Director of DHEC's Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division.
South Carolina had the first person in 50 years die from rabies. If you encounter animals, it's important to be cautious of wild animals acting tame and domesticated animals acting wild, and always give wild and stray animals their space.
If you do suspect an animal has rabies, do not approach it, instead, give your local animal control officer a call. South Carolina does not require owners of agricultural animals to vaccinate for rabies, although rabies vaccines for cows, horses, and sheep have been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Those at the USDA strongly recommend you vaccinate the following:
- Horses, cattle, and sheep that have frequent contact with humans
- Livestock that is particularly valuable
- Animals used for raw milk or raw milk product production
Officials say death associated with rabies occur in people who fail to seek medical assistance.
Rabies in humans is 100% preventable through prompt, appropriate medical care.