A York County animal control employee was bitten by a puppy that later tested positive for rabies, said Steven Stuber, supervisor for the York County Animal Control division.
The 7-month-old puppy was surrendered Jan. 31 by a family that no longer had room for it. After the dog bit the employee, Stuber said, it was euthanized and its body was sent to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, which is standard practice when an animal is suspected of having rabies or when it is unknown if the animal has rabies.
South Carolina law requires pet owners to vaccinate their pets against rabies each year, said Sue Ferguson, rabies program manager in DHEC’s Bureau of Environmental Health Services.
The only way to test for rabies in an animal is to test its brain tissue, DHEC spokesman Jim Beasley said, which means the animal must be euthanized.
While DHEC’s initial report made it appear that 10 people had been exposed to rabies, Beasley said on Friday that was inaccurate. Only one person was bitten by the dog, he said.
“The other nine people were just potentially exposed,” he said.
Those people had contact with the dog, he said, but they were not exposed to the rabies virus, which is most commonly transmitted through an animal’s saliva.
DHEC urged those people to consult a doctor out of “an abundance of caution,” Beasley said.
Days after the incident, Stuber said, everyone on his staff is doing well. All animal control employees have been vaccinated against rabies to protect them when working cases like this.
Rachel Southmayd • 803-329-4072