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      DHEC: Fox exposes 4 in Berkeley County to rabies

      SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCIV) - Four people are being treated for rabies exposure after coming into contact with a fox in Berkeley County, state health officials said Thursday.

      According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control, the four people were being treated after a fox tested positive for the disease in the Summerville area.

      "To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services (BEHS). "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 contract the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well."

      There were 124 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2013 in South Carolina, DHEC reports. There have been 81 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year.

      Officials said the fox is the first to test positive in 2014 from Berkeley County. There was one animal that tested positive last year in Berkeley County.

      "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," Craig said. "Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC."

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