ANDERSON COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - One person was exposed to rabies in Anderson County after being bitten by a skunk, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
The person was bitten on December 30 between Homeland Park and Lake Hartwell, and the skunk tested positive for rabies on December 31.
"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). "Please play it safe and give animals, particularly wild and stray animals, their space. About 275 South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most, but not all, exposures coming from bites or scratches by a rabid or suspected rabid animal."
Craig said when symptoms of rabies are present in an animal there is no way to tell by its appearance whether the sickness is rabies or another condition that causes similar side-effects like distemper or lead poisoning. The only way to determine if an animal has or had rabies is to have the brain tested in a laboratory.
"The virus is known to be transmitted from mammal to mammal through exposure to saliva or neural tissue. The threat of rabies is still present even after an animal is deceased," Craig said. "Please keep this in mind and be extremely cautious if you find yourself in a situation where you have the potential to be exposed to the saliva or neural tissue (for example: brain or spinal cord) from an animal--dead or alive. Never handle a wild or stray animal, dead or alive, with your bare hands."
Make sure that all pets and family members are vaccinated from the disease, which is fatal in pets.
The skunk is the ninth animal from Anderson County to test positive for rabies in 2015. It brought the state total for the year to 130 cases.