COLUMBIA, S.C. - One person has been referred to a health care provider for preventive treatment after being exposed to rabies in the Hilton Head area of Beaufort County by a raccoon that tested positive for the disease, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.
"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."
"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."
There were 124 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2013 in South Carolina. There have been 80 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. This animal is the third 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 at http://www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/DHECLocations/. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's rabies webpages can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies and http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/contact/capture.html.
Public Information Officer