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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 8, 2017

Beaufort County raccoon potentially exposes one person to rabies

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 raccoon that tested positive for the disease.

On Sept 2, the victim was potentially exposed to infectious material while handling the dead animal. In addition, a dog was attacked by the raccoon. Since the dog was up to date with its rabies vaccination, it will be placed under a 45-day quarantine. If the dog had not been current on its rabies vaccination, a longer quarantine would have been required.

The incident occurred in the Shell Point Park neighborhood within the City limits of Beaufort. The raccoon was submitted to DHEC's laboratory on Sept 5 and confirmed to have rabies the next day.

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, make sure never to handle dead animals without proper protective equipment," said Sandra Craig, Director, DHEC Food Protection and Rabies Prevention Division. "Always give wild and stray animals their space. If you see an animal in need, avoid handling it and contact your local animal control office or wildlife rehabilitation facility."

"Rabies is transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the body of a person or animal," said Craig. "This usually occurs through a bite; however, saliva contact with open wounds or areas such as the eyes, nose, or mouth could also potentially transmit rabies."

If a person or pet comes into contact with an animal and there is a possibility of rabies transmission, the incident should be reported to the local DHEC Bureau of Environmental Health Services (BEHS) office during normal business hours (Monday through Friday 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM). 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.

The raccoon is the third animal in Beaufort County to test positive for rabies in 2017. There have been 48 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. In 2016, 13 of the 94 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Beaufort County.

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

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DHEC Media Relations
media@dhec.sc.gov
(803) 898-7769