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June 10, 2016

Fairfield County fox potentially exposes one person to rabies

COLUMBIA, S.C. - One person has started post exposure treatment after potentially being exposed to rabies in the Blair area of Fairfield County by a fox that tested positive for the disease, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today.

The victim was potentially exposed on June 6, 2016, after being bitten by the fox. The fox was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on June 7, and was confirmed to have rabies the same day.

"Rabies is a deadly virus transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the body, usually through an open wound or coming into contact with mucous membranes such as the mouth or eyes," 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."

All bites and scratches from wild animals need to be reported to DHEC. DHEC is asking anyone in the Blair area who has been bitten or scratched by a fox, or other animal, to contact the Midlands Environmental Quality Control Office at 803-896-0620. 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.

"Please play it safe and give animals, particularly wild and stray animals, their space," said Craig. "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."

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 rabies is present is to euthanize the animal and have the brain tissue tested in a laboratory.

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

The fox from Fairfield County is the second animal from that county to test positive for rabies in 2016. There have been 49 confirmed cases of rabies statewide this year. There were a total of 130 confirmed cases of animal rabies in South Carolina in 2015. One of the 2015 cases was from Fairfield County.

For more information on rabies visit, or contact your local DHEC BEHS office at: CDC's rabies webpage can be found at


DHEC Media Relations