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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7, 2010

Oconee County residents alerted about danger of rabies; advised to vaccinate pets

COLUMBIA, S.C. - An Oconee County man is under the care of a physician after being bitten by a dog that has tested positive for rabies, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control said today.

“The incident happened in the Madison community May 1 when the man was bitten by the stray dog while trying to capture it,” said Sue Ferguson of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health.

According to Ferguson, anyone bitten, scratched or otherwise exposed to the saliva of a rabid animal must undergo immediate measures to stop the virus from reaching the brain. Once the rabies virus reaches the brain, the disease is fatal to humans and animals, so he is receiving preventive inoculations.

“Avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild,” Ferguson said. “About 400 South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures from being bitten or scratched get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC.”by a rabid or suspected rabid animal. Wild animals carry the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well.

“Therefore, to protect both the pets and their owners, all residents should make sure their pets are regularly vaccinated against the disease. State law requires that all pets be vaccinated against rabies. Failure to do so can result in a misdemeanor charge.”

“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,” she said. “Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC.

This is the first confirmed rabid animal in Oconee County in 2010. Last year, there were eight rabid animals confirmed in the county. In 2009, there were 152 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in South Carolina. So far this year, there have been 26 confirmed cases in animals in the state.

For more information about rabies, see DHEC's Web page at: http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies or contact DHEC’s Oconee County Environmental Health office at (864) 638-4185. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web page about rabies can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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For more information:
Thom Berry - (803) 898-3885
E-mail - berrytw@dhec.sc.gov
BNR1981