News 12's Carter Coyle investigates how to keep you and your pets safe from contracting rabies. (WRDW-TV / June 13, 2012)
News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, June 13, 2012
AIKEN, S.C. -- An Aiken County raccoon has tested positive for rabies, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
DHEC reports this is the third confirmed animal with rabies in Aiken County this year. There were nine there last year.
Laura Gaudette loves animals, especially her three pugs. But two years ago she came face to face with one animal who was not so friendly.
"I heard a rustling and went outside. Next thing I know, my parents and my sister are screaming, 'Fox!' I turn around and make eye contact with it. I try to run away while picking up my pug because I love my pug. I slipped and fell. The fox came up and bit onto my left ankle," she said.
Ever the hero, Gaudette's dog, Clara, chased down the fox and was bitten, too. Her dad shot the raccoon and Animal Control told them it tested positive for rabies. Both Gaudette and Clara had to be treated for the disease.
"I had about 15 shots in my ankle," Gaudette said. "Then, every so many weeks I had a shot in each arm, rotated back and forth, about four more times."
Gary Willoughby, president of the Aiken SPCA, says there are a few ways to tell if an animal is rabid.
"If it's a tame animal and it's acting wild or unusual, or if it's a wild animal acting too wild, you should keep your distance. Like a raccoon coming up to you in the middle of the day -- that's not usually something you see for nocturnal animals. So it's best to stay away."
One of the later symptoms is foaming at the mouth, but a rabid animal might also be acting a little too friendly, rubbing your leg or trying to come inside. DHEC reports show the animal may also be acting drunk or paralyzed.
Last year in South Carolina, there were 107 cases of rabies total. Most were in animals such as raccoons, bats and even foxes. Rabies bites are less common from cats and dogs.
Any animal you adopt from a shelter like the SPCA will have its rabies shots before you adopt it. If they are too young, they will given the shots when you bring them back to be spayed or neutered.
In South Carolina and Georgia, the law requires pets to be vaccinated for rabies every year. Some vets offer a three-year shot, too.
If you have any questions about any wild animal, even cute kittens or puppies, it's best to call animal control before touching them.
If you are bitten by an animal and aren't sure if it's been vaccinated for rabies, wash the wound with soapy water and get to the hospital immediately. You need to get the vaccine within 48 hours.
Right now, the Aiken SPCA has an overload of cats and dogs. All adoption prices include shots and spay or neuter. This week there is a special of half-off adoption fees for any animal. Since it is kitten season, cats and kittens can be adopted two for the price of one.
Some Rabies Shot Locations in the CSRA:
Tractor Supply Company in Aiken
2655 Whiskey Road
Saturday, June 23
9 to 10:30 a.m.
Indoor cat $33
Outdoor cat $50
Dogs $50 to $70
Petsmart in Augusta
225 Robert C Daniel Jr Pkwy
$37.95 per vet checkup and visit
Petsmart in Aiken
2527 Whiskey Rd
Petco in Evans
4209 Washington Rd
July 7: Vaccination packages
1 outdoor pet for $35; 2 outdoor pets for $73
1 indoor pet for $35; 2 indoor pets for $52
Heartsong in Evans
424 South Belair Road