Lexington County Residents Urged To Avoid Wild Animals
A Lexington County man is under a doctor's care and receiving inoculations to prevent rabies after being bitten by a raccoon that has tested positive for the disease.
"Because rabies is fatal to humans and animals, anyone bitten, scratched or otherwise exposed to the saliva of a rabid animal must undergo immediate preventive measures to stop the virus from reaching the brain," said Sue Ferguson of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental health. "State law requires that all pets be vaccinated against rabies, and we strongly encourage residents to avoid contact with stray animals and make sure their own pets have been vaccinated to protect both the pets and their owners.
"Be wary of tame animals 'acting wild' and wild animals 'acting tame' and if you are bitten or scratched by a wild animal or domestic pet, immediately wash the wound with plenty of soap and water," she said. "DHEC advises the public to be sure to get immediate medical attention for any possible exposure to the saliva of a rabid animal and to be sure to report the incident to DHEC."
Ferguson said that about 400 South Carolinians have to undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year after being bitten by a rabid or suspected rabid animal.
This is the fifth confirmed rabid animal in Lexington County in 2007. In 2006, six animals were confirmed with rabies in the county and there were 180 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in South Carolina. Thus far in 2007, there have been 46 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in the state.