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March 1, 2012

DHEC investigating Lexington County fox attack

COLUMBIA, S.C. - After a confirmed fox attack near Lexington County's Ballpark Road recreational facility, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is advising individuals to be especially cautious and avoid wild animals.

"Avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," said Sue Ferguson of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health. "About 400 South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures from being bitten or scratched by a rabid or suspected rabid animal."

According to Ferguson, a man was attacked by a fox near the facility off Highway 1 in Lexington. Once the rabies virus reaches the brain, the disease is fatal to humans and animals, so the man is receiving preventive inoculations.

"Wild animals carry the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well," Ferguson said. "To protect both the pets and their owners, residents should make sure their pets are regularly vaccinated against the disease. State law requires that all pets be vaccinated against rabies.

"If you are bitten, scratched or come into contact with the saliva of a possibly infected animal, immediately wash the affected area with plenty of soap and water," she said. "Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC."

Last year, there were three rabid animals confirmed in Lexington County and 107 statewide. So far this year, there have been 17 rabid animals confirmed in the state.

For more information about rabies, see DHEC's webpage at: /Health/DiseasesandConditions/InfectiousDiseases/InsectAnimalBorne/Rabies/. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's webpage about rabies can be found at:


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