COLUMBIA, S.C. - Veterinarians across South Carolina are joining the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) this spring to help owners protect their pets, their families, their communities and themselves against rabies.
"All pet owners must have their dogs, cats and ferrets vaccinated as required by state law," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "Local veterinarians offer the vaccines year round, but the spring clinics help raise awareness about this fatal disease while providing increased convenience to pet owners. Contributions from local veterinarians provide a valuable public service to our citizens.
"Participating veterinarians will vaccinate pet dogs, cats and ferrets during the spring clinics," Craig said. "Rabies vaccination fees can vary by clinic site, but no vet participating in these clinics will charge more than $10 per pet."
While not required by state law, DHEC strongly recommends that owners vaccinate all horses, any livestock that have frequent contact with humans, any livestock that are particularly valuable, or animals used for raw milk or raw milk product production.
According to Craig, more than 470,000 South Carolina animals were vaccinated against rabies in 2015. Each year, however, several hundred South Carolinians are recommended by a physician to undergo preventive treatment after being exposed to a rabid or suspected rabid animal.
"Rabies is a threat to pets, livestock, wild animals and humans. Pet owners must stay vigilant and keep their pets current on their vaccinations," Craig said.
Statistics show that in 2015 there were 130 positive cases of rabies confirmed in animals across the state, including 61 raccoons; 32 skunks; 15 foxes; 10 bats; six cats; two dogs; and one cow, sheep, coyote, and otter.
No cases of rabies were confirmed in animals last year in Allendale, Bamberg, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Cherokee, Chesterfield, Colleton, Dillon, Dorchester, Georgetown, Hampton, Jasper, Marlboro, or Orangeburg counties. Positive rabies cases, however, have been reported in every South Carolina county since the statewide program began.
Spring clinic dates, times and locations, as well as additional information about preventing rabies, can be found on DHEC's website at www.scdhec.gov/rabies.