Rabid fox found found in Aiken County; 1 person exposed

A lot of rabid raccoons and skunks are turning up in the CSRA this season, and most are in Columbia and McDuffie counties.
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 11:13 AM EST
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - A fox found near White Cedar Way and Red Cedar Road in Aiken has tested positive for rabies, the latest in a rash of cases across the CSRA in recent months.

One person was exposed and has been referred to their health care provider.

The fox was submitted to a state laboratory for testing on Tuesday and was confirmed to have rabies on Wednesday.

If you believe you, someone you know or your pets have come in contact with this fox or another animal that potentially has rabies, call 803-642-1637 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays) or after hours and on holidays at 888-847-0902 (select Option 2).

This is the latest in a string of rabies cases that’s struck the CSRA in recent months. Although both sides of the river have been affected, most of the cases have involved raccoons in Columbia and McDuffie counties in Georgia.

Although it’s rare for people to die of rabies in the U.S. – thanks to a vaccine that’s available once a person is exposed – the virus kills 59,000 people a year around the world.

It’s almost always fatal once symptoms start in humans. In fact, only 29 people in the world have ever been known to survive it.

Rabies is usually transmitted through a bite or scratch that allows saliva from an infected animal to be introduced into the body, said Terri McCollister, rabies program director for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. But open wounds or areas such as the eyes, nose or mouth could also potentially transmit rabies

What to do

  • Give wild and stray animals their space. If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it and contact someone trained in handling animals, such as your local animal control office.
  • Make sure your dogs and cats are currently vaccinated against rabies.
  • Do not let your pets roam free. They are more likely to have contact with a rabid wild animal.
  • Avoid feeding your animals outside. This draws stray and wild animals to your doorstep.
  • Teach your children not to approach wild animals and animals they don’t know.

Contact information for your local public health offices is available at scdhec.gov/RabiesContacts. For more information on rabies, visit scdhec.gov/rabies or cdc.gov/rabies.