DHEC reminds pet owners of importance of vaccinations on World Rabies Day

South Carolina News

A dog looks on as a veterinarian technician gives a canine influenza immunization in Los Gatos, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) – As part of World Rabies Day initiatives, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is reminding pet owners how important it is to keep pets up to date on their rabies vaccinations.

Several partners across the state are supporting World Rabies Day, a global campaign to help prevent the spread of rabies, by providing low-cost rabies vaccines.

Promoted by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, World Rabies Day is observed annually on Sept. 28. This year’s theme, “End Rabies: Collaborate, Vaccinate,” highlights how essential vaccination is in preventing the spread of and eliminating the rabies virus.

DHEC is urging South Carolinians to keep their pets vaccinated and up to date on their booster shots. Visit www.scdhec.gov/rabies  for a list of vaccine clinics as well as other important rabies information.

Low-cost rabies vaccination providers include:

“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,” said David Vaughan, Director of DHEC’s Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division. “However, saliva or neural tissue contact with open wounds or areas such as the eyes, nose, or mouth could also potentially transmit rabies. To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals their space. If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it and contact someone trained in handling animals, such as your local animal control officer or wildlife rehabilitator.”

DHEC says to never release a bat that had potential contact with a person, pet, or livestock. Bat bites can’t always be felt or noticed, so it’s important that any bat that could have had contact with people or animals is tested for rabies.

Bats should be safely trapped in a sealed container and not touched, DHEC says. Once a bat is released, it can’t be tested for rabies. Never handle a bat or any wild or stray animal, alive or dead, with bare hands.

Bat contact/exposure is defined as:

  1. Waking up to find a bat in your room;
  2. Finding a bat where children, pets, or persons with impaired mental capacity (intoxicated or mentally disabled) have been left unattended; or
  3. A pet or person that has been in direct contact with a bat.

If you have reason to believe that you, someone you know, or your pets have come into contact with an animal you believe has rabies or another animal that potentially has rabies, call your local DHEC Environmental Affairs Office. Be sure to immediately wash any part of your body that may have come into contact with saliva or neural tissue with plenty of soap and water and seek medical attention.

To report a bite or exposure on holidays or outside of normal business hours, call the DHEC after-hours service number at 888-847-0902.

To learn more, visit www.rabiesalliance.org/world-rabies-day or www.scdhec.gov/rabies.

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