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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 29, 2018

Bat potentially exposes one person to rabies in Spartanburg County

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has referred one person to their health care provider after being potentially exposed to a rabid bat in the Landrum area of Spartanburg County.

The bat was found near a residence on May 23. The victim was potentially exposed while handling the bat, which tested positive for rabies on May 25.

"Rabid bats have been known to transmit the rabies virus to humans and pets," said David Vaughan of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "People - especially children - don't always realize they've been bitten, as it is very easy to overlook a bat bite because bat teeth are so tiny.

"If you find a bat in a room, a tent, or in any area where someone has been sleeping or where unattended children have been playing, always assume the bat could have bitten the sleeping person or the unattended children," Vaughan said. "The bat should be safely trapped in a sealed container and not touched; call your local DHEC Environmental Affairs office to report the incident. Never release a bat that has potentially exposed a person or pet. Once a bat is released, it cannot be tested for rabies. Similarly, never handle a bat or any wild or stray animal, alive or dead, with your bare hands." For more information on safely capturing a bat, please visit the CDC's website at: https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/contact/capture.html.

According to Vaughan, "Although bats can carry rabies, not every bat is infected with this virus. Bats are an important part of South Carolina's ecosystems and deserve a healthy degree of respect just like all wild animals. You can't tell that a bat, or any other animal, has rabies by simply looking at it. Rabies must be confirmed in a laboratory."

Unusual behavior in bats that might indicate the animal has rabies include: daytime activity, inability to fly, and being found in places they are not usually seen, like in your home or on your lawn.

If you think you may have been exposed to an animal possibly infected with rabies through a bite, scratch, or contact with saliva or neural tissue, immediately wash the affected area with plenty of soap and water. Be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to your 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 (888) 847-0902.

The bat is the first animal in Spartanburg County to test positive for rabies in 2018. There have been 32 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. In 2017, three of the 63 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Spartanburg County.

Residents can contact their local Bureau of Environmental Health Services office using DHEC's interactive map: 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