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Fox tests positive for rabies in Fairfield County, one person exposed

DHEC is renewing its call for residents to report bites and scratches while also being aware of injuries to pets.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

CORRECTION: DHEC reports that none of the 168 confirmed rabies cases in 2020 were in Fairfield County. 

WINNSBORO, S.C. -- One person is receiving treatment following exposure to a rabid fox in Fairfield County, state health officials say.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) released a statement on Friday warning residents in and around Winnsboro. The incident apparently happened between Drayton and Fairfield Streets near North Congress Street.

DHEC didn't provide any additional information about the encounter between the person and the fox but said that the fox was submitted to the agency's laboratory on July 14 and was confirmed to have rabies the following day.

The agency also took the time to remind residents to report all animal bites, scratches, and exposures to them - and get help if injured.

It's the first fox to test positive for rabies in Fairfield County in 2021. However, there have been 44 rabid animal cases across the state this year. DHEC reports there have been 148 positive cases a year, on average, since 2002. In 2020, none of the 168 confirmed cases was in Fairfield County.

"It is very important for you to seek medical attention if you have been exposed to a wild, stray, or domestic animal. The rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and can be transmitted through a bite, scratch, broken skin, and the mucous membranes of your eyes, nose, or mouth. Immediately wash the affected area with plenty of soap and water," said team leader Terri McCollister of the Rabies Program.

And if a pet is found with wounds of unknown origin, they suggest that owners consider the possibility that their pet has been exposed to rabies. Residents can contact DHEC's Environmental Affairs Columbia office at 803-896-0620 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. After-hours and holiday calls can go to 888-847-0902, then select option 2.