The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) recently confirmed that a dog abandoned in Greenville, SC, has tested positive for rabies.
At least 18 people were potentially exposed and have been referred to their healthcare providers. This is an ongoing investigation as DHEC is having difficulty contacting the dog’s previous owner. Staff have learned that the dog may have been from the area near 8th Street and Neubert Street in Greenville.
Submitted to DHEC’s laboratory for testing on December 13, 2021, the dog was confirmed to have rabies on December 14, 2021.
“We are deeply concerned about all persons involved, as rabies is fatal if left untreated after exposure,” said Lisa Carlson, Midlands Region Medial Director.
The rabies virus may have been in the dog’s saliva for two weeks or more before symptoms of rabies were present. The dog has been described as a tan, pit bull mix between 1-2 years of age. A distinguishing feature of the dog is that it was described as having basset hound shaped feet which are generally bowed out.
Exposure to rabies does not have to be from a bite or scratch, simply being licked in the face could be deemed an exposure by a healthcare provider. The agency is attempting to identify any person or persons who may have been in contact with this dog to determine if any additional exposures have occurred.
If you believe that you, someone you know, or your pets have come in contact with this dog or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC’s Environmental Affairs Greenville office at (864) 372-3273 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday) or after hours and on holidays at (888) 847-0902 (Select Option 2).
Please report all animal bites, scratches, and exposures to potentially rabid animals to DHEC. “It is very important for you to seek medical attention if you have been exposed to a wild, stray, or domestic animal. The rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and can be transmitted through a bite, scratch, broken skin, and the mucous membranes of your eyes, nose, or mouth. Immediately wash the affected area with plenty of soap and water,” said Terri McCollister, Rabies Program Team Leader. “Contact your local Environmental Affairs office for further guidance.”
It is important to keep pets up to date on their rabies vaccination, as this is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect against the disease. This dog is the sixth animal in Greenville County to test positive for rabies in 2021. There have been 98 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive cases a year. In 2020, five of the 168 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Greenville County.