More Than 12 Treated by Hilton Head Doctor After Kissing Baby Raccoon With Rabies

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More than a dozen people are being treated by a doctor after they held, fed and kissed a baby raccoon at Hilton Head Island that later tested positive for rabies.

Department of Health and Environmental Control officials tell The Island Packet of Hilton Head that 16 people are being evaluated. Seven more people may need vaccines to prevent them from contracting the disease.

DHEC spokeswoman Clair Boatwright said someone adopted the 3-week-old raccoon and the animal was handled affectionately by several people before it became ill Monday. The animal later tested positive for rabies.

Boatwright said the disease is fatal once symptoms begin to show, meaning the virus has reached the brain. Boatwright said 20 of the residents' pets are being quarantined for 45 days.

Heath officials warn that wild animals be left alone.