Puppy exposes 1, potentially 9 others to rabies, health officials say

by: Catherine Bilkey Updated:

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YORK COUNTY, S.C. - A puppy has exposed one person and potentially nine others in York County to rabies, according to South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

“That’s kind of scary,” Rock Hill resident Eric Wilson said. “It’s close to home to have rabies come out like that.”

The people have been advised to contact their health care provider for post-exposure treatment after one person was bitten by the animal and nine others potentially exposed.

The nine others had contact with the animal, but were not bitten, so there is only a potential exporsure in those cases.

The puppy tested positive for the disease Thursday.

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," said Sue Ferguson, of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services.

There were 123 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2013 in South Carolina.

There have been 11 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year.

This animal is the first to test positive in 2014 from York County. Eyewitness News asked a local veterinarian how to stay safe.

“Rabies as a virus untreated, except for two cases in human history, has been universally fatal,” said Bert Platt with Catawba Animal Clinic. “We had in South Carolina, in December of 2011, the first human fatality in over 50 years.”

He said following the law, getting animals vaccinated is very important.

“In South Carolina, all dogs and cats between 3-6 months of age must begin their rabies vaccinations,” Platt said. “And those vaccinations must remain updated throughout their lives

For more information on rabies in South Carolina, click here.