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 potential exposure occurred June 13 when the victim was bitten by a fox in Greenwood. The fox was submitted to DHEC’s laboratory for testing June 14 and was confirmed to have rabies June 15.
“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.
It’s important to keep pets up to date on their rabies vaccination, as this is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect against the fatal disease.
“To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals their space,” Vaughan said. “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.”
If you have reason to believe that you, family members or pets have come into contact with this fox or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC’s Environmental Affairs Greenwood Office at 864-227-5915 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday). 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 or times outside of normal business hours, please call the DHEC after-hours service number 888-847-0902.
This fox is the third animal in Greenwood County to test positive for rabies in 2019. There have been 63 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 108 positive cases a year. In 2018, eight of the 100 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Greenwood County.
Contact information for local Bureau of Environmental Health Services’ offices is available at www.scdhec.gov/EAOffices. For more information on rabies visit www.scdhec.gov/rabies
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