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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2017

Newberry County skunk and Kershaw County fox potentially expose victims to rabies

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Three people have started post-exposure treatment after being potentially exposed to rabies. The first exposure occurred in Newberry County in the area between Whitmire and Newberry in association with a skunk that tested positive for the disease. The second exposure occurred in Kershaw County in an area east of Camden and south of the Antioch community by a fox that also tested positive for rabies, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today.

The first exposure occurred on May 16 when a skunk from Newberry County fought with two dogs. An individual was also potentially exposed to the skunk during this incident.  The skunk was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on May 17 and was confirmed to have rabies on May 19.

The Kershaw County exposure occurred on May 20 when two individuals were attacked by a fox. The fox also potentially exposed a dog at the same location. The fox was submitted for testing and confirmed to have rabies on May 20.

In addition to the human exposures mentioned, the two dogs from Newberry County and the dog from Kershaw County will each undergo a quarantine period. The two dogs from Newberry County were not current with their rabies vaccinations and will undergo a 180-day (6 month) quarantine. The dog from Kershaw County was current on its rabies vaccination and will, therefore, undergo a shorter 45 day quarantine.  

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend giving wild and stray animals their space," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "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 healthy person or animal. 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," said Craig.

Hundreds of South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year due to exposure to a rabid or suspected rabid animal.

Keeping your pets current with their rabies vaccinations is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect yourself, your family and your pets from this fatal disease.

The skunk is the first animal from Newberry County to test positive for rabies in 2017. In 2016, six of the 94 rabies cases in South Carolina were in Newberry County.

The fox is the third animal from Kershaw County to test positive for rabies in 2017. There were no animals to test positive in that county last year.

There have been 24 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year.

Contact your local DHEC Environmental Health Services office using DHEC's interactive map. For more information on rabies: visit www.scdhec.gov/rabies. CDC's rabies webpage can be found at: www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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