GEORGETOWN, S.C. — Up to 18 people may have been exposed to rabies in South Carolina from one puppy, South Carolina health officials say.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said Wednesday the exposures happened between August 22 and September 6 when the people were either bitten, scratched, or exposed while in contact with the dog. 

The puppy had been rescued on Interstate 95 near Mount Zion Road in the town of Saint George in Dorchester County. The puppy was a small Shepherd mix.

The animal was confirmed to have rabies on September 8. 

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals their space," said David Vaughn, Director of DHEC's Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division. "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." 

If you have reason to believe that you, your family members, or your pets have come into contact with this puppy, or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Environmental Affairs Charleston office at (843) 953-0150 during normal business hours (M-F, 8:30-5:00). 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 and/or times outside of normal business hours, please call the DHEC after-hours service number (888) 847-0902.

There have been 102 cases of rabid animals in South Carolina this year. For more information on rabies, visit DHEC's rabies website.