Fox exposes Charleston County victim to rabies, DHEC says

VIDEO: Fox exposes Charleston County victim to rabies, DHEC says

JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control say a person is being treated for a possible rabies exposure after being bitten by a fox on Johns Island.

The potential exposure happened on Tuesday when the victim was bitten by the fox near Savannah Highway, health officials said. The animal was submitted to DHEC’s lab on Wednesday and was confirmed on Thursday to have been rabid.

The victim has been referred to their health care provider for treatment.

DHEC has not provided any details about the age or gender of the victim.

This fox is the 13th animal in Charleston County to test positive for rabies in 2019.

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," David Vaughan, Director of DHEC Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division, said.

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 disease, he said.

“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 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 Charleston Office at 843-953-0150 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday).

Be sure to immediately wash any part of your body that may have come in 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 at 888-847-0902.

There have been 116 cases of rabid animals statewide this year.

Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 108 positive cases a year. In 2018, three of the 100 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Charleston County.

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