Newberry County, SC (WLTX) - Three people from the Midlands are receiving treatment after they were potentially exposed to rabies by two wild animals.
The incidents involved encounters with the animals in Newberry and Kershaw County, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
The first exposure took place May 16, when state health officials say a skunk from the Whitmire area in Newberry County fought with two dogs. An individual was also potentially exposed to the skunk during this incident.
The skunk was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on May 17 and was confirmed to have rabies on May 19.
The Kershaw County exposure occurred on May 20 when two individuals were attacked by a fox in an area east of Camden, according to DHEC. The fox also potentially exposed a dog at the same location. The fox was submitted for testing and confirmed to have rabies on May 20.
The two dogs from Newberry County and the dog from Kershaw County will each undergo a quarantine period. The two dogs from Newberry County were not current with their rabies vaccinations and will undergo a 180-day (6 month) quarantine. The dog from Kershaw County was current on its rabies vaccination and will, therefore, undergo a shorter 45 day quarantine.
"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend giving wild and stray animals their space," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services in a statement. "If you see an animal in need, avoid handling it and contact your local animal control office or wildlife rehabilitation facility."
"Rabies is transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the body of a healthy person or animal. This usually occurs through a bite; however, saliva contact with open wounds or areas such as the eyes, nose or mouth could also potentially transmit rabies," said Craig.
The skunk is the first animal from Newberry County to test positive for rabies in 2017. In 2016, six of the 94 rabies cases in South Carolina were in Newberry County.
The fox is the third animal from Kershaw County to test positive for rabies in 2017. There were no animals to test positive in that county last year.
There have been 24 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year.