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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2013

Raccoon exposes Richland County man to rabies

COLUMBIA, S.C. –A Richland County man was exposed to rabies and is undergoing post-exposure treatments after being bitten by a raccoon that tested positive for the disease, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," said Sue Ferguson of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. ”About 275 South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures coming from bites or scratches by a rabid or suspected rabid animal. Wild animals carry the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well.”

Ferguson said state law requires pet owners to have their pets regularly vaccinated against the disease.
“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.”

There were 137 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2012 in South Carolina. There have been 81 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. This animal is the third to test positive this year from Richland County.

For more information about rabies, see DHEC’s Web page at http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies, or contact your local DHEC BEHS office
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s rabies Web page 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