Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Fourteen people in Anderson County are being treated for rabies after a kitten tested positive for the disease.
In a statement from South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control, residents are strongly advised to make sure your dogs, cats, and ferrets are properly vaccinated against the Rabies disease regularly.
"Rabies is a threat to humans, pets, and wild animals," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "All pet owners should have their (sic) pets vaccinated regularly as required by state law. It is extremely important to the health of your pet, your family, and you that pet vaccinations are kept up-to-date."
However, young pets, such as kittens or puppies, are more at risk because the vaccinations for them differ from adult animals.
"Talk to your veterinarian to determine when you should vaccinate a young puppy or kitten, as well as when to schedule a booster. While puppies and kittens are still very young and not fully immunized, they should be monitored whenever they are outside, in order to reduce possible exposure to diseases."
"This is a continuing investigation," said Craig, "and it involves the quarantining of numerous pets. Unvaccinated pets that are exposed to the rabies virus must be quarantined or euthanized. Rabies is fatal once the virus reaches the brain, yet the heartache of losing a pet to this disease can be avoided."
Low cost vaccines are available every day at local veterinary clinics, and Pawmetto Lifeline-sponsored Care-A-Van travels the Midlands every week, offering low-cost vaccinations against rabies, along with a number of other medications for family pets.
See their schedule to find out when they will be in your area: http://careavansc.com/schedule.
In 2013 there were 124 confirmed cases of Rabies in South Carolina... So far in 2014, there have been 87 confirmed cases.
Take the steps necessary to make sure your family's pets don't become part of these statistics.