CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCIV) -- Five adults in the Hollywood area are undergoing post-exposure treatments after they were exposed to rabies by a raccoon that tested positive for the disease, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reported on Thursday."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."
There were 137 confirmed cases of animal rabies in South Carolina during 2012. There have been 76 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year, which includes bats, raccoons and foxes.This raccoon is the third animal from Charleston County to test positive for rabies this year.
Experts with DHEC said a person can easily have the virus and not know it because the symptoms are not always immediate.
John Walters of Roper St. Francis Hospital said rabies attacks the central nervous symptom and symptoms can take anywhere from 30 to 90 to days to show up. In some cases, experts said it can take years.
"You can get numbness and tingling and then you can go on acting out of control," he said. "You can have seizures. You go into a coma. You act delirious."
"If you're at that point, your chance of survival is zero," Walters added.
He said people who think they be exposed to a rabid animal should seek medical attention immediately.