Woman treated for bite by rabid fox

A Rock Hill woman is under the care of physicians after she was bitten by a rabid fox on Thursday, state health officials say.

The fox was fighting with the woman's dog. The woman was bitten when she tried to pull the fox off her dog, according to a written statement from the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

It's the third case of rabies in Rock Hill since early June and the second case involving a fox in the same time period. One case of rabies was confirmed in a calf, and two men tending the animal were given preventative treatment, according to health officials.

In the latest case, the dead fox tested positive for rabies on Friday, said DHEC spokesman Adam Myrick. He would not say where the fox came from, how it died or where it was found.

The woman was not identified by DHEC.

On Monday, DHEC issued a statewide press release advising York County residents to be wary of wild animals.

"Avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," Sue Ferguson, DHEC's environmental health manager, said in the statement.

If anyone is bitten, scratched, or otherwise exposed to the saliva of a rabid animal, he must take immediate measures to stop the virus from reaching the brain, Ferguson said.

Typical treatment is one dose of immune globulin and five doses of rabies vaccine during a 28-day period, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 400 South Carolinians undergo preventative treatment for rabies every year, said Ferguson. Most exposures come from being bitten or scratched by a rabid or suspected rabid animal.

"Wild animals carry the disease most often," said Ferguson. "But domestic pets can contract rabies as well."

This is the seventh confirmed rabid animal in York County in 2007. Last year, there were four rabid animals in the county, according to DHEC.

One reason for the increase could be the influx of subdivisions and homes built on farmland and in the country, said Myrick.

"It is something we are seeing more of," said Myrick. "And as a result, humans are coming across more wild animals."

L.A. Williams, an environmental health director for DHEC , said there are two basic things to do to keep your pets from acquiring rabies.

"Avoid contact with wild animals and keep your pets' vaccination up to date," Williams said.

As for humans, if you should come into contact with a rabid animal, wash the contact area with soap and water immediately, said Myrick.

"Time is of the essence," Myrick said. "After you wash the wound, you should seek medical help as soon as possible."