Free use file photo – Pexels
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control confirmed Wednesday afternoon that a fox found near Brunner Circle and High Pointe Drive in Blythewood has tested positive for rabies. Three dogs were exposed and will be quarantined as required in the SC Rabies Control Act, and one person was also potentially exposed and has been referred to their healthcare provider.
The fox was submitted to DHEC’s laboratory for testing Monday and was confirmed to have rabies Tuesday.
“To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals plenty of space,” said Terri McCollister, Rabies Program Team Leader. “If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it and contact someone trained in handling animals, such as your local animal control officer, wildlife control operator, or wildlife rehabilitator.” An exposure is defined as direct contact (such as through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth) with saliva or brain/nervous system tissue from an infected animal. If your pet is found with wounds of unknown origin, please consider that your pet may have been exposed to rabies.
DHEC advises anyone who may have come into contact or whose pets may have come in contact with the fox, or another animal that potentially has rabies to call DHEC’s Environmental Affairs Columbia office at (803) 896-0620 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday) or after hours and on holidays at (888) 847-0902 (Select Option 2).
Officials reminded the public to keep pets up to date on their rabies vaccinations, which is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect against the disease.
The fox is the tenth animal in Richland County to test positive for rabies in 2021. There have been 84 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive cases a year since 2002. Eight of the 168 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Richland County last year.