Spartanburg County Residents Alerted About Rabies

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A Wellford-area child who was possibly exposed to rabies from a fox attack is under the care of a physician after the fox tested positive for rabies, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control said today.

“The incident happened May 16 as the fox was chasing a four-wheeler which crashed,” said Sue Ferguson of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health. “The fox was shot and killed.”

“About 400 South Carolinians undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures from being bitten or scratched by a rabid or suspected rabid animal,” Ferguson said. “Anyone bitten, scratched or otherwise exposed to the saliva of a rabid animal must undergo immediate measures to stop the virus because, once the rabies virus reaches the brain, the disease is fatal to humans and animals.

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“Avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild,” she said. “Wild animals carry the disease most often but domestic pets can also contract rabies.

“Therefore, to protect both the pets, their owners and other members of the community, we strongly encourage every pet owner to make sure their cats, dogs and ferrets are regularly vaccinated against the disease. State law requires that all pets be vaccinated against rabies.

“If you think you have been exposed to the rabies virus through a bite, scratch or the saliva of a possibly infected animal, immediately wash the affected area with plenty of soap and water,” Ferguson said. “Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC.”

This is the third confirmed rabid animal in Spartanburg County in 2009. Last year, there were nine rabid animals confirmed in the county. In 2008, there were 166 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in South Carolina. So far this year, there have been 63 confirmed cases in animals in the state.

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