DHEC: Girl bitten by fox exposed to rabies

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) - An 11-year-old Berkeley County girl that was bitten by a fox has been exposed to rabies, according to Department of Health and Environmental Control officials.

      The child was bitten in the Pineville area of Berkeley County and DHEC officials say she is undergoing post-exposure treatments because the fox tested positive for rabies.

      "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."

      Ferguson said 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."

      According to DHEC, there were 137 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2012 in the state and 82 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year.

      DHEC also reports this animal is the first to test positive this year from Berkeley County. There were no animals from this county to test positive in 2012.