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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 12, 2011

Anderson County residents advised to stay away from wild animals; don’t care for or adopt them

COLUMBIA, S.C. – An Anderson County teen who was exposed to rabies by a raccoon is under the care of a physician after the animal tested positive for rabies, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

"He was bitten by the raccoon when he found it in the woods and attempted to pick it up and carry it home," said Sue Ferguson of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health. “As he picked up the animal, it bit him on the finger.”

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

“About 400 South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year," Ferguson said, “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," she said. "Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC."

This is the ninth confirmed rabid animal in Anderson County in 2011. So far this year, there have been 88 confirmed cases in animals in the state. In 2010, there were six rabid animals confirmed in Anderson County and 106 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in South Carolina.

For more information about rabies, see DHEC's webpage at http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies or contact Bob Bailey in DHEC’s Greenwood County Environmental Health Office at (864) 227-5928. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's webpage on rabies can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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For more information:
Jim Beasley – (803) 898-7769
Email – beaslejc@dhec.sc.gov