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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 11, 2016

Georgetown County raccoon exposes one person to rabies

COLUMBIA, S.C. - An individual has been referred to their health care provider for consultation after a possible rabies exposure in the Murrells Inlet area of Georgetown County by a raccoon that tested positive for the disease, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today. 

The individual was potentially exposed to rabies while handling the raccoon's carcass with bare hands on Feb. 5, 2016. The raccoon was submitted for testing to DHEC's laboratory on Feb. 8, and confirmed to have rabies on Feb. 9.

"It's important to use caution around any wild animal-dead or alive," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "Please keep this in mind if you find yourself in a situation where you have the potential to be exposed to the saliva or neural tissue (for example: brain or spinal cord) from any animal. Never handle a wild or stray animal with your bare hands."

"Every year several hundred South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies after being potentially exposed to the rabies virus," Craig said. "Once symptoms of rabies are present in an animal, it is impossible to tell by appearance if the animal has rabies or some other condition."

In addition to being cautious around wild or stray animals, keeping your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can protect your pet and family from this fatal disease.

The raccoon from Georgetown County is the first animal from that county to test positive for rabies in 2016. There have been 12 confirmed cases of rabies statewide this year. There were a total of 130 confirmed cases of animal rabies in South Carolina in 2015. None of the 2015 cases was from Georgetown 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 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