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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17, 2017

Spartanburg County bat potentially exposes one person to rabies

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A person in Spartanburg County was potentially exposed to a rabid bat earlier this month.

On Nov. 7, 2017, a bat was found between Converse Heights and Beaumont Village in downtown Spartanburg. The individual that found the animal was potentially exposed by having bare hand contact with the bat. The bat was submitted to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) on Nov. 8, and rabies was confirmed on Nov. 9.

The bat is the third animal in Spartanburg County to test positive for rabies in 2017. There have been 58 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. In 2016, four of the 94 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Spartanburg County.

Bats are the most common source of human cases of rabies in the United States. Because bats have small teeth, their bites may go unnoticed which makes it vitally important to identify any person who has had potential contact with a bat. For more information on bats and rabies, please visit: https://www.scdhec.gov/rabies/PreventingRabies/Bats/.

"Rabies is transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the body of a person or animal," said David Vaughan, Director, Division of Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement. "Transmission usually occurs through a bite; however, transmission can also occur when saliva or neural tissue contacts open wounds or areas such as the eyes, nose, or mouth."

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals their space. If you see an animal in need, avoid handling it and contact someone trained to do so, such as your local animal control office or a wildlife rehabilitation facility," said Vaughan.

In addition to being cautious around wild or stray animals, keeping your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccination is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can protect yourself, your family, and your pets from this fatal disease.

If a person or pet contacts a bat or other animal and there is concern of rabies transmission, the incident should be reported to the local DHEC Bureau of Environmental Health Services (BEHS) office during normal business hours (Monday through Friday 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM). To report a bite or exposure on holidays and/or times outside of normal business hours, please call the DHEC After-Hours Service number at (888) 847-0902.

Residents can find contact information for their local Bureau of Environmental Health Services office at: www.scdhec.gov/EAOffices. For more information on rabies visit: www.scdhec.gov/rabies or www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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DHEC Media Relations
media@dhec.sc.gov
(803) 898-7769