Guidance For Veterinarians


Preventing Rabies

CDC recommendations for veterinarians.

Read the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, 2016 (pdf). Reviewed yearly by the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, this document has helped standardize approaches to animal rabies prevention and control in the U.S.

Read Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) ACIP Recommendations for Human Rabies Exposure. 15 experts in fields associated with immunization were selected by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services to advise and guide DHHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the control of vaccine-preventable diseases. The committee issues recommendations for the routine administration of vaccines to children and adults in the civilian population.

Read the DHEC Guide to Managing Animal Exposures and Rabies Post-exposures Prophylaxis (pdf).

Rabies Vaccination Certificate for Interstate Travel (NASPHV Form 51 (revised 2007) (pdf).

Report a possible rabies exposure to DHEC.

Compare S.C. rabies cases by county.

When well-meaning people seek your advice or services for rescued orphaned, injured, or sick wild animals, help them avoid serious health and legal risks.


Dealing with Strays, Wild Animals

It's hard to tell if a wild or stray animal has rabies or some other type of illness, such as distemper.

If you see a wild or stray animal behaving aggressively or abnormally, always play it safe. Do not touch or approach the animal and keep your pets and children safely away from it.

Contact a Wildlife Control Operator (WCO) or Wildlife Rehabilitator to request assistance for wild animals. Please note that most WCOs do charge a fee for their services.

For a sick, wild animal, seek a Wildlife Rehabilitator's advice.

Compassionate people often take in or try to get help for orphaned, wounded, and sick wild animals. But, impulsively approaching or handling a wild animal is risky:

  • You could be exposed to rabies or other diseases and parasites.
  • If the animal is in pain, it could attack you.
  • You could face fines or other penalties should you accidentally break a state or federal wildlife law.

We urge you to never approach or handle an orphaned, injured, or sick raccoon, skunk, fox, coyote, mink, weasel, otter, opossum, or any other meat-eating wild animal.

Instead, for help with any orphaned, sick, or wild animal, seek advice and help from a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation organization. Find one in your area - use the SC Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Rehabilitator Registry.

Finally, don't leave garbage or pet food outside - it can attract wild and stray animals. If you must leave garbage outside, place it in a sturdy can with a tight-fitting lid.

Call a local animal control officer or police for help:

  • if a stray dog or wild animal poses an immediate threat.
  • if your county or city does not have an animal control officer, call your local police department or sheriff's office to see if they have the staff and equipment to respond.
  • DHEC is not authorized to retrieve or trap animals. Our job is to investigate animal bites and other incidents that may have exposed someone to rabies.

Vaccinate Dogs, Cats, and Ferrets

If you own a dog, cat, or ferret, you're required by South Carolina's rabies law to keep your animal's rabies shot up to date. This usually means a once-a-year vaccine, but veterinarians also offer multi-year vaccines for cats and dogs that offer good protection and satisfy the legal requirement.

Your veterinarian or veterinary technician can administer the vaccine, or you can take advantage of the yearly rabies vaccination clinics DHEC sponsors with local veterinarians, usually in the spring.

Some animal rescue groups and veterinarians also offer lower-cost vaccination clinics throughout the year. Find a low-cost rabies vaccination clinic.

Certificate of Need for Out-of-State Travel

If you take a pet dog, cat, ferret, or horse out of South Carolina, make sure to take along your animal's rabies vaccination certificate. While horses are not required by SC law to be vaccinated for rabies in state, federal regulations do require the vaccine for out-of-state travel.

You'll receive your pet's rabies certificate, along with a rabies tag for your pet's collar, when your animal is vaccinated.

Always keep your pet's rabies tag on its collar, and keep the rabies certificate in a safe place.

Give your patients information on rabies.


Facilities Health