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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 26, 2011

Cherokee County man exposed to rabid fox

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A rural Cherokee County man is under the care of a physician after being bitten by a fox July 21 that tested positive for rabies, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

"The man was sitting on the porch of his home northeast of Gaffney, when the fox jumped out of nearby bushes and bit the man on his foot,” said Sue Ferguson of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health. "Although he kicked the fox into the yard, the animal kept charging. Eventually, the man was able to kill the fox.”

Ferguson said once the rabies virus reaches the brain, the disease is fatal to humans and animals, so the man is receiving preventive inoculations. 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.

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, it is also recommended that people 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 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 vaccinate their pets regularly 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," she said. "Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC."

This is the first confirmed rabid animal in Cherokee County in 2011. Last year, there were no rabid animals confirmed in the county. In 2010, there were 106 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in South Carolina. So far this year, there have been 56 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 Cherokee County Environmental Health Office (864) 487-2705. 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 media inquiries:
Jim Beasley – (803) 898-7769
Email – beaslejc@dhec.sc.gov
JBNR20110726