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      DHEC investigates two incidents of fox bites

      DHEC is investigating two confirmed cases of foxes attacking individuals in southeast Columbia near the VA Medical Center.

      COLUMBIA, S.C.(WACH) ?? The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is advising individuals to be especially cautious and avoid wild animals. The warning comes after two confirmed cases of foxes attacking individuals in southeast Columbia near the Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center.

      Sue Ferguson of DHEC??s Bureau of Environmental Health said, "Avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," Furguson adds,"About 400 South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures from being bitten or scratched by a rabid or suspected rabid animal.?? According to Ferguson, two individuals were attacked by foxes in separate incidents in residential areas south of Garners Ferry Road on Feb. 16. "Wild animals carry the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well," Ferguson said. "To protect both the pets and their owners, residents should make sure their pets are regularly vaccinated against the disease. State law requires that all pets be vaccinated against rabies." "If you are bitten, scratched or come into contact with the saliva of a possibly infected animal, immediately wash the affected area with plenty of soap and water," she said. "Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC."

      According to thefoxwebsite.com, fox populations are higher in urban areas than in rural areas.

      DHEC spokesman Adam Myrick says due to the proximity of where the bites took place, there may be more than one fox involved in the attacks. Last year, there were three rabid animal attacks confirmed in Richland County. Also in 2011, there were 107 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in South Carolina. A Sumter woman died of rabies contracted from a bat bite last year.