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Williamsburg County Fox Potentially Exposes One Person to Rabies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 7, 2018

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today that one person has been referred to their health care provider after being potentially exposed to rabies by a fox that tested positive for the disease.

The exposure occurred on Sept. 3 when the victim was bitten by the fox near the City of Kingstree. The fox was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on Sept. 4 and was confirmed to have rabies on Sept. 5.

"Rabies is usually transmitted through a bite which allows saliva from an infected animal to be introduced into the body of a person or another animal. However, saliva or neural tissue contact with open wounds or areas such as the eyes, nose, or mouth could also potentially transmit rabies," said David Vaughan, Director of DHEC's Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division.

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals their space. If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it and contact someone trained in handling animals, such as your local animal control officer or wildlife rehabilitator," said Vaughan.

It is also important to keep pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccination, as this is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can protect yourself, your family, and your pets from this fatal disease. If you have reason to believe that you, your family members, or your pets have come into contact with this fox or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Environmental Affairs Conway office at (843) 915-8801 during normal business hours (M-F, 8:30-5:00). Be sure to immediately wash any part of your body that may have come into contact with saliva or neural tissue with plenty of soap and water and seek medical attention. To report a bite or exposure on holidays and/or times outside of normal business hours, please call the DHEC after-hours service number (888) 847-0902.

This fox is the first animal in Williamsburg County to test positive for rabies in 2018. There have been 68 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 110 positive cases a year. In 2017, 1 of the 63 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina was in Williamsburg County.

Residents can contact their local Bureau of Environmental Health Services' office using DHEC's interactive map: http://www.scdhec.gov/EAOffices. For more information on rabies visit: www.scdhec.gov/rabies or www.cdc.gov/rabies/.

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