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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 17, 2011

DHEC advises residents to avoid wild animals

COLUMBIA, S.C. – After two confirmed cases of foxes attacking individuals in southeast Columbia near the Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is advising individuals to be especially cautious and avoid wild animals, the agency announced today.

"Avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," said Sue Ferguson of DHEC’s Bureau of Environmental Health. "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.”

According to Ferguson, two individuals were attacked by foxes in separate incidents in residential areas south of Garners Ferry Road on Feb. 16.

"Wild animals carry the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well," Ferguson said. "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 are bitten, scratched or come into contact with 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."

Last year, there were three rabid animal confirmed in Richland County. Also in 2011, there were 107 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in South Carolina.

For more information about rabies, see DHEC's webpage at: http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies. 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:
Adam Myrick – (803) 898-3884
Email – myrickar@dhec.sc.gov
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