FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 16, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Three people have been referred to their healthcare providers for consultation after potentially being exposed to rabies near the City of Barnwell by a fox that tested positive for the disease, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today.
The victims were potentially exposed on June 12, 2016, when the fox appeared on their property acting aggressively. The victims were subsequently bitten and/or scratched by the fox. The fox was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on June 13 and was confirmed to have rabies on June 14.
Additionally, a pet dog was potentially exposed to rabies by the fox. The dog is current on its rabies vaccination and is required to undergo a 45-day quarantine. If the dog had not been vaccinated for rabies, a longer quarantine would have been required per the Rabies Control Act.
"Rabies is a deadly virus that is transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the body, usually through a bite, or contact with an open wound or areas such as the mouth or eyes," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild.
"Please play it safe and give animals, particularly wild and stray animals, their space," said Craig. "Hundreds of South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures coming from bites or scratches by a rabid or suspected rabid animal."
In addition to being cautious around wild or stray animals, keeping your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccination is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can protect yourself, your family and pets from this fatal disease.
The fox from Barnwell County is the first animal from that county to test positive for rabies in 2016. There have been 51 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. There were a total of 130 confirmed cases of animal rabies in South Carolina in 2015. Only one of the 2015 cases was from Barnwell County.
For more information on rabies visit http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies, or contact your local DHEC BEHS office at http://www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/DHECLocations/. CDC's rabies webpage can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.
DHEC Media Relations