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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dec. 16, 2010

Colleton County residents advised to stay away from wild animals; vaccinate pets against rabies

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A raccoon found in the Neck Area of Edisto Beach is Colleton County's first rabid animal of 2010, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

"Two dogs killed the raccoon," said Tony Stephens supervisor of DHEC's Colleton County Environmental Health Office. "Since both dogs are currently vaccinated against rabies, they will be quarantined for 45 days."

Stephens said once the rabies virus reaches the brain, the disease is fatal to humans and animals.

According to Stephens, 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.

"Avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," Stephens said. "About 400 South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures from being bitten or scratched 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, residents should make sure their pets are regularly vaccinated against the disease. State law requires that all pets be vaccinated against rabies.

"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," he said. "Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC."

Last year, no rabid animals were 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 103 confirmed cases in animals in the state.

For more information about rabies, see DHEC's webpage at: http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies or contact DHEC's Colleton County Environmental Health Office (843) 549-2373. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's webpage about rabies can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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For more information:
Adam Myrick – (803) 898-3884
E-mail – myrickar@dhec.sc.gov
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