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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 13, 2016

Two people potentially exposed to rabies in Greenwood County

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Two people have started post-exposure treatment after being potentially exposed to rabies in an area between the town of Coronaca and the Saluda River in Greenwood County, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today.

The first incident occurred in the early morning hours of April 11, 2016. An individual and a dog were bitten by a fox that gained access into their home. The fox exited the home and could not be submitted for testing. The dog was current on its rabies vaccination and is undergoing a 45-day quarantine.

The second incident occurred approximately one mile from the initial attack later the same day when an individual was attacked while exiting their vehicle. The fox was submitted to DHEC and tested positive for the rabies virus on April 12.

While the incidences occurred in close proximity, DHEC could not conclusively determine if the same fox was involved in both events.

All bites and scratches from wild animals need to be reported to DHEC. DHEC is asking anyone between the town of Coronaca and the Saluda River who has been bitten or scratched by a fox, or other animal, to contact our Upstate Environmental Quality Control Office at 864-227-5915. Similarly, DHEC is asking pet owners in the area to report any pets that came into direct contact with a fox or were recently found to have wounds of unknown origin. These pets may need to be quarantined and vaccinated for their own protection and for the protection of family members and other pets.

"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). "Please play it safe and give animals, particularly wild and stray animals, their space. Hundreds of 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."

It is possible for the rabies virus to be passed from a rabid animal to people or other animals. The rabies virus is transmitted from one mammal to another through exposure to saliva or neural tissue. You can only get rabies by coming in contact with these specific bodily excretions and tissues.

According to Craig, 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.

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 family and pets from this fatal disease.

The fox from Greenwood County is the first animal from that county to test positive for rabies in 2016. This fox brings the total number of cases statewide in 2016 to 25 cases. There were seven animals that tested positive in Greenwood County in 2015 and a total of 130 confirmed cases of animal rabies in South Carolina in 2015.

For additional 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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DHEC Media Relations
media@dhec.sc.gov
803.898.1127