Rabies scare: Teen going through treatment following dog bite

RAVENEL, SC (WCSC) - A Ravenel teenager bitten by a dog said the animal had foam around its mouth. Now she's waiting to find out if the dog has rabies.

"His four canines went like this and just wrapped around the back of my leg," said Hannah Helander.

Sunday afternoon Helander pulled over on Highway 165 to check a low tire.

Helander said, "Three dogs came out of the woods and I could hear them running through the bushes and I turned around and I saw three of them."

Helander is a veterinarian technician and deals with animals almost every day. She said she could tell something was wrong by the way the dogs aggressively charged at her.

"By the time that I got around to the driver's side door, he got the back of my leg and I had to close the door on him just to get away. Then they were like charging at my windows and I just drove away," said Helander.

Monday she caught word the pack went after someone else. Helander said someone shot and killed the dog that bit her. When she saw the body, she said the dog's mouth was covered in foam.

"I went and picked up the bodies and got them sent off. DHEC came and got them from me and I got them sent off for testing," said Helander.

Thursday a spokesman with DHEC said they're doing tests, but don't know yet if the dog had rabies. Hannah went ahead and started treatment just in case. She said it has been a painful process.

"That was the worst pain I ever had. It burned like fire and it was like somebody was sitting on my ankle," Helander said, "He had to stick a needle around each bite."

Helander says she has to get 8 shots over the course of the next 28 days.

While she says the ordeal was scary, Helander still defended pit bulls, the breed of dog she says bit her.

"This dog could've gotten rabies from a raccoon that sits in your backyard. That doesn't mean that the pit bull was aggressive itself," said Helander.

Signs of Rabies

If an animal appears disoriented or wobbly, or is not acting normally, is more aggressive or agitated, it could have rabies.

It's important to get checked if you are bitten says Dr. Eleanor Jenkins-Alford, a physician for Health First Urgent & Primary Care.

"As the disease progresses it can also affect a human's nervous system. They can seizures, hallucinations as well as the foaming at the mouth when it gets to the severe point. It can be fatal," said Dr. Jenkins-Alford.

The health department says this year 6 people in Charleston County were exposed to cats with rabies. No reports so far in Dorchester and Berkeley counties. In our state, rabies is found the most in raccoons, foxes, skunks and bats.

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