Pacolet, SC (FOX Carolina) - On Thursday, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported that a person in Union County could have potentially been exposed to rabies after an encounter with a fox that tested positive for the disease.
DHEC says the potential exposure occurred on June 11 when the victim was bitten and scratched by the fox in Pacolet.
The fox was captured and submitted to DHEC's testing laboratory on June 11 and confirmed to be infected on June 12.
The fox is the first animal in Union County to test positive for the disease in 2019. DHEC says across the state there have been 61 cases of rabid animals this year.
David Vaughn, Director of DHEC's Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division said, "To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals their space. 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."
DHEC stressed the importance of keeping pets up to date on their rabies vaccination as it is one of the most effective ways to prevent the disease.
"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," Vaughan said.
If you have reason to believe that you, family members or pets have come into contact with this fox, cat or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Environmental Affairs Spartanburg office at 864-596-3327 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday).
DHEC says to be sure to immediately wash any part of your body that may have come into 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 888-847-0902.