Wednesday, August 21, 2013
A 12-year-old Berkeley County girl was hospitalized after being bitten by a rabid fox in the Pineville area, according to a statement released by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control Wednesday.
She was leaving her house the morning of Aug. 19 to catch the bus on the first day of school when the incident occurred.
“It bit her on the ankle,” said Sam Chappelear of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources' Charleston regional office, which covers Berkeley County. “It was under the steps.”
"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,” Ferguson said. “Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC.”
Sgt. Thomas Spann, of SCDNR law enforcement, said the incident occurred at about 6:45 a.m. at a residence off Pineville Circle. The residence is about 40 yards from the road, he said.
“It came out and bit her and she grabbed a hold of it and pulled it off her,” Spann said. “She was screaming and held on to it. Her grandpa's house is next door.”
Her grandfather grabbed a rifle and shot the fox dead, according to Spann.
The girl was treated by EMS and transported to Trident Hospital.
“The little girl went to the emergency room to get treated,” Spann said.
Berkeley County Animal Control took possession of the fox and transported it to its compound at the Doc Williams SPCA so the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control could pick it up, Spann said.
DHEC will test it for rabies.
“I didn't see any sign of it frothing from the mouth,” Spann said. “It was a small female fox. I don't think she was old enough to have pups.
“I see them out a lot when I'm hunting. I have been here all my life. They are (usually) not aggressive.”
He said the porch was clean and it would likely be a few days before the rabies test would be complete.
There were 137 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2012 in South Carolina, according to DHEC. There have been 82 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. 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.
For more information about rabies, see DHEC's Web page at http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies, or contact your local DHEC BEHS office.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's rabies Web page can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.