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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 16, 2011

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

COLUMBIA, S.C. – An Anderson County child is under the care of a physician after being exposed to a skunk that tested positive for rabies, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control said today.

“The incident happened August 12th in the Piedmont area of the county when a skunk was killed after being found in a pen with the family’s dog,” said Sue Ferguson of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health. “The family’s dog is up to date on its rabies vaccination but is being quarantined as required by law.”

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

According to Ferguson, anyone bitten, scratched or otherwise exposed to the saliva of a rabid animal must undergo immediatemeasures to stop the virus from reaching the brain.

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

This is the eighth confirmed rabid animal, including five skunks and three raccoons, in Anderson County in 2011. Last year, there were four skunks, a fox and a raccoon 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 65 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 Bob Bailey at (864) 227-5928. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web page about rabies can be found at:http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies.

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