Rabies in South Carolina

Rabies is a virus (Lyssavirus) that can be transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the body of a healthy person or animal. It infects cells in the central nervous system, causing disease in the brain and, ultimately, death.

Any mammal has the ability to carry and transmit the disease to humans or pets. Rabies is transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the body. Exposure can occur through a bite, scratch or contact with saliva to broken skin or mucous membranes such as the eyes or mouth.

In South Carolina, the primary carriers of rabies are:

  • Raccoons
  • Skunks
  • Foxes
  • Bats

It's important to remember that rabies is a medical urgency, but not an emergency. Rabies in humans is 100% preventable through prompt, appropriate medical care.


Join us in the fight to #EndRabies by keeping your pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) up-to-date on their rabies vaccination. You can also vaccinate livestock such as horses, cows and sheep. Species for which licensed rabies vaccines are not available (goat and swine), that have frequent contact with humans, or are considered valuable, should also be vaccinated. This not only protects your animal, it protects you and your family from this deadly virus.

Educational Material

Find more images, posters, and coloring pages on our Rabies Educational Material page.

Rabies in the U.S.

Over the last 100 years, rabies in the United States has changed dramatically. More than 90% of all animal cases reported annually to CDC now occur in wildlife. Before 1960, the majority were in domestic animals.

The number of rabies-related human deaths has declined from more than 100 annually to one or two per year. Human fatalities associated with rabies occur in people who fail to seek medical assistance, usually because they were unaware of their exposure.

The number of post-exposure treatments given in the United States each year is estimated to be about 40,000 to 50,000. Although the cost varies, treatment typically exceeds $3,000 per person.

Healthcare Providers and Veterinarians

Make sure to report all animal incidents to DHEC. Consultations with DHEC medical staff are available when evaluating possible rabies exposures, to help you determine if post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) should be administered.

Consult with us when evaluating possible rabies exposures.

We can help you make decisions about post-exposure prophylaxis:

Healthcare providers, make sure to report all animal bites to DHEC.

Report Animal Bites to DHEC

If you're bitten or scratched by a wild, stray, or unvaccinated animal care for the wound properly and contact your healthcare provider. The healthcare provider is required to report the incident to DHEC.

If your child is bitten and you do not seek medical treatment for the wound, you are required to contact your regional DHEC Public Health Services office to report the incident by the end of the following business day.