Dog fight with raccoon exposes person to rabies in Lancaster Co.

South Carolina health officials say a person was exposed to rabies in the Camp Creek area of northern Lancaster County last week after the person’s dog fought with a rabid raccoon.

The person is undergoing treatments. The state Department of Health and Environmental Control on Wednesday released some details about the incident, but officials did not identify the victim.

The exposure happened May 28, and the raccoon tested positive for rabies on Monday, DHEC said. The victim’s dog was exposed to rabies during the fight with the raccoon, but the dog was current on its rabies vaccination.

Because the dog was exposed to the disease, officials said, the dog’s owner could have been exposed to the raccoon’s saliva via the dog’s mouth or its coat.

The dog will be under a 45-day quarantine. Had it not been current on its rabies vaccination, DHEC would require a six-month quarantine.

There were 139 cases of animal rabies in South Carolina in 2014, DHEC officials said. So far this year, there have been 65 confirmed cases statewide.

Last week’s exposure was Lancaster County’s first positive rabies case this year, officials said. In 2014, the county had seven cases.

“To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild,” said Sandra Craig, director of rabies prevention for DHEC.

Most rabies exposures come from bites or scratches by a rabid animal or one suspected to be rabid, she said.

“Wild animals contract the disease most often,” Craig said, “but domestic pets can contract rabies as well.”

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

Rabies response

State health officials recommend the following steps if rabies exposure is suspected:

▪ Immediately wash the affected area with soap and water.

▪ Handle affected pets with care to avoid human exposure.

▪ Seek medical attention.

▪ Report the incident by calling DHEC’s Rabies Program at 803-896-0655.