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      Raccoon exposes Lee County woman to rabies

      A Lee County woman is being treated for exposure to rabies after she was bitten by a raccoon that tested positive for the disease, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

      "To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," Sue Ferguson with DHEC Bureau of Environmental Health said.

      "About 275 South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures coming from bites or scratches by a rabid or suspected rabid animal. Wild animals carry the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well."

      Ferguson stated that state law requires pet owners to have their pets regularly vaccinated against the disease.

      "If you think you have been exposed to the rabies virus through a bite, scratch or the saliva of a possibly infected animal, immediately wash the affected area with plenty of soap and water," she said.

      There were 107 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2011 in South Carolina. There have been 131 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year.

      For more information about rabies, click here or contact your local DHEC environmental health office.