Rabies is “the most deadly virus on the planet.”
A rabid goat in South Carolina may have infected nine people with the disease, according to state public health officials.
The Anderson County goat tested positive for rabies on March 8, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control said in a press release. The nine people sent for treatment were exposed to the goat on a property near Honea Path, South Carolina.
“Rabies is usually transmitted through a bite which allows saliva from an infected animal to be introduced into the body of a person or another animal,” DHEC’s David Vaughan said in the press release.
“However, saliva or neural tissue contact with open wounds or areas such as the eyes, nose or mouth could also potentially transmit rabies,” Vaughan said. “To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals their space. 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.”
It’s unclear if the goat bit the nine people or how they may have been infected in the rural area in western South Carolina.
Livestock are not required to get a rabies vaccine in South Carolina, but the state “strongly recommends that owners also vaccinate horses, livestock in frequent contact with humans.”
Pet dogs, cats and ferrets are required to have the rabies vaccine in South Carolina.
Most reported cases of rabies in the United States “occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to DHEC, “This goat is the third animal in Anderson County to test positive for rabies in 2019. There have been 25 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year.”
Since 2013 the state has an average 108 rabies cases each year, according to DHEC. There were 100 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina last year, and four of those were in Anderson County, public health officials say.