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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 16, 2015

Raccoon exposes person to rabies in Greenville County

COLUMBIA, S.C. - One person has been referred to their health care provider for consultation after being exposed to rabies in the Five Forks area of Greenville County by a raccoon that tested positive for the disease, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

The exposure occurred on July 14, 2015. The raccoon was a baby being raised in captivity. Its mother had been killed. The baby raccoon bit its caretaker and was euthanized and submitted for testing. It tested positive for rabies July 15.

"Although wild animals contract rabies most often, domestic pets can contract the disease as well," 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. 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."

Both people and animals are susceptible to the rabies virus. The rabies virus is known to be transmitted from mammal to mammal through exposure to saliva or neural tissue. If you are not exposed to saliva or neural tissue from a rabid animal, you cannot contract the virus.

Once symptoms of rabies are present in an animal, it is impossible to tell by appearance if an animal has rabies or some other condition that causes similar signs of illness, such as distemper or lead poisoning. The only way to determine if the animal has rabies is to have the brain tested in a laboratory.

"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 2014, there were 139 confirmed cases of animal rabies in South Carolina. There have been 80 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. This animal is the third to test positive in 2015 from Greenville County. There were nine that tested positive in that county in 2014.

For a list of rabies signs and symptoms, please visit our Signs/Symptoms of Rabies webpage at http://www.scdhec.gov/Health/DiseasesandConditions/InfectiousDiseases/InsectAnimalBorne/Rabies/Symptoms/.

Vaccination is the best way to help protect your pet and your family from this disease. For additional information on rabies, visit http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies, or contact your local DHEC BEHS office athttp://www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/DHECLocations/. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention'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