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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 29, 2016

Charleston County raccoon potentially exposes one person to rabies

COLUMBIA, S.C. - One person has been referred to their healthcare provider for consultation after potentially being exposed to rabies by a raccoon that tested positive for the disease in the Mount Pleasant area, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today.

On July 24, 2016, the raccoon was seen acting abnormally. The potential exposure occurred on July 25, when the individual was providing care for the animal. The raccoon was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on July 26 and was confirmed to have rabies on July 27.

"Be sure to never handle a wild or stray animal with your bare hands," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "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. Always play it safe and give animals their space, particularly wild and stray animals.

"Rabies is a deadly virus that is transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the body, usually through a bite or contact with an open wound or areas such as the mouth or eyes," said Craig. "Hundreds of South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year."

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 yourself, your family and your pets from this fatal disease.

The raccoon is the first animal in Charleston County to test positive for rabies in 2016. There have been 63 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. In 2015, none of the 130 rabies cases in South Carolina were in Charleston 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 webpage can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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DHEC Media Relations
media@dhec.sc.gov
803.898.1127