Beau­fort County leads SC in ra­bies cases

The Island Packet (Sunday) - - Local - BY STEPHEN FASTENAU sfas­te­nau@is­land­packet.com

An ag­gres­sive rac­coon re­ported in down­town Beau­fort this week later tested pos­i­tive for ra­bies, county an­i­mal con­trol of­fi­cials said.

Beau­fort County An­i­mal Ser­vice re­sponded to calls about the an­i­mal try­ing to at­tack peo­ple and an­i­mals near East Street and Han­cock Street in the Point neigh­bor­hood on Tues­day, the agency said in a Face­book post Thurs­day. State health of­fi­cials con­firmed Thurs­day the rac­coon tested pos­i­tive for ra­bies.

In the post, county an­i­mal con­trol en­cour­aged peo­ple to vac­ci­nate pets.

Beau­fort County had seven of the 75 ra­bies cases re­ported in South Carolina through Sept. 30, ac­cord­ing to state data. That’s the most of any county in the state.

It wasn’t the first re­port of a ra­bid rac­coon this year.

Mul­ti­ple peo­ple were sent to the doc­tor for pos­si­ble ra­bies ex­po­sure af­ter a stray cat at a Beau­fort bar tested pos­i­tive for the dis­ease. The cat con­tracted ra­bies af­ter fight­ing with a rac­coon, county An­i­mal Ser­vices di­rec­tor Tal­lu­lah Trice said at the time.

At the time, the cat was the fifth an­i­mal to test pos­i­tive for ra­bies in the county this year, match­ing the to­tal for all of 2017, state health of­fi­cials said. A fox in the Bluffton area was also found to be car­ry­ing to dis­ease in June.

An­other fox tested pos­i­tive for ra­bies af­ter at­tack­ing a Bluffton man in July, the sixth case in the county.

Ra­bies is usu­ally spread by a bite, said David Vaughan, di­rec­tor of ra­bies preven­tion for Depart­ment of Health and En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­trol, in a news re­lease this sum­mer.

But it can also be spread by saliva com­ing in con­tact with open wounds or eyes, nose and mouth, he said. The agency rec­om­mends giv­ing wild or stray an­i­mals space.

“If you see an an­i­mal in need, avoid touch­ing it and con­tact some­one trained in han­dling an­i­mals, such as your lo­cal an­i­mal con­trol of­fi­cer or wildlife re­ha­bil­i­ta­tor,” Vaughan said in the re­lease.

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