CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A Hollywood woman is undergoing treatment for rabies after deputies say she was bitten by her pet racoon.
Charleston County deputies say they were called out to a home on Quarter Hoss Lane on August 5 after a woman was bitten on her left arm by her pet racoon.
An incident report states after owning the racoon for "5 to 6 months", the victim noticed a change in the racoon's behavior.
The victim initially declined medical assistance, but later started treatment for the rabies virus after the racoon was euthanized and tested positive, deputies say.
According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), five adults in Hollywood were exposed to rabies from a raccoon encounter. They did not elaborate on the incident(s).
"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," said Sue Ferguson of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "About 275 South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures coming from bites or scratches by a rabid or suspected rabid animal. Wild animals carry the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well."
State law requires pet owners to have their pets regularly vaccinated against the disease.
"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," she said. "Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC."
There were 137 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2012 in South Carolina. There have been 76 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. This animal is the third to test positive this year from Charleston County.