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For Immediate Release
October 20, 2014

Raccoon exposes person to rabies in Beaufort County

COLUMBIA, S.C. - One person has been referred to a health care provider to receive post-exposure treatment after being bitten in the St. Helena area of Beaufort County by a raccoon that tested positive for rabies, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

The exposure occurred on Oct. 16, 2014, and the raccoon tested positive for rabies on Oct. 18, 2014.

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services (BEHS). "About 275 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. Wild animals contract the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well."

The victim spotted the animal on the side of a road, thinking it was dead. When the victim attempted to move the raccoon off the roadway, it bit the individual on the finger.

"If you think you have been exposed to the rabies virus through a bite, scratch or the saliva of a possibly infected animal, immediately wash the affected area with plenty of soap and water," Craig said. "Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC."

During 2013, there were 124 confirmed cases of animal rabies in South Carolina. There have been 118 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. This animal is the fifth to test positive in 2014 from Beaufort County. There was one animal that tested positive in that county in 2013.

For more information about rabies, see DHEC's webpage at http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies, or contact your local DHEC BEHS office, athttp://www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/DHECLocations/. CDC's rabies webpages can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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Jim Beasley
Public Information Director
beaslejc@dhec.sc.gov
803.898.7769