FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 5, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Five people have been referred to their healthcare provider for consultation after potentially being exposed to rabies by a puppy that tested positive for the disease near the Town of Chesnee, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today.
The German Shepherd mix puppy was obtained on the premises of Burr's Trading Post on June 20, 2016 from an individual not affiliated with the store. The address of Burr's is 298 Old Stage Road in Chesnee, S.C. It was reported that several other puppies were also available for purchase. DHEC recommends that anyone who obtained or was exposed to a puppy there around this time should watch the animal for signs and symptoms of rabies and immediately seek veterinary care if the animal becomes ill. Signs and symptoms can include lethargy, fever, vomiting, weakness, not wanting to eat, aggression, abnormal behavior, difficulty walking, difficulty breathing, and difficulty swallowing.
It is important to inform your veterinarian there is a possibility of rabies so they will be able to diagnose symptoms more quickly and have their staff take necessary precautions to protect themselves. If you suspect you obtained one of these puppies and no longer have the animal or the puppy died, please contact your health care provider as soon as possible about a potential rabies exposure. In addition, please contact DHEC's Environmental Health Services Spartanburg office at the phone numbers listed below.
"Rabies is a deadly, but preventable, viral disease that is transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the human body, usually through a bite, or contact with an open wound or areas such as the mouth or eyes," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "Unfortunately, hundreds of South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, due to exposure to a rabid or suspected rabid animal."
The victims were potentially exposed when they were either bitten, scratched, or were providing care for the animal. The puppy began to show neurological symptoms at the end of July, and was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on August 1. The puppy was confirmed to have rabies the following day. DHEC is working with the facility to identify and contact customers that may have purchased a puppy during this time.
Keeping your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccination is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can protect yourself, your family and your pets from this fatal disease.
"Talk to your veterinarian to determine when you should vaccinate a young puppy or kitten, as well as when to schedule a booster," said Craig. "While puppies and kittens are still very young and not fully immunized, they should be monitored whenever they are outside in order to reduce possible exposure to diseases."
If you have a question or concern about possible exposure, please contact DHEC's Environmental Health Services Spartanburg office at (864) 596-3327. Operators are available Monday- Friday from 8:30a-5:00p. During times outside of normal business hours or on holidays, please call (888) 847-0902.
The puppy is the fourth animal in Spartanburg County to test positive for rabies in 2016. There have been 64 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. In 2015, Spartanburg County had five rabies cases out of 130 statewide.
For more information on rabies visit http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies, or contact your local DHEC BEHS office at: http://www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/DHECLocations/. CDC's rabies webpage can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.
DHEC Media Relations