Rabid Bat Confirmed in Aiken County and Rabid Skunk in Laurens County; One Person and One Pet Exposed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2022
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that a bat found near Robinhood Trail and Mockingbird Lane in Aiken, S.C. has tested positive for rabies. One person was exposed and has been referred to their healthcare provider.
A skunk also tested positive for rabies in Laurens County. The skunk was found near Deerfield Drive and Meadowbrook Drive in Laurens, S.C. No people are known to have been exposed at this time. One dog was exposed and will be quarantined as required in the South Carolina Rabies Control Act.
The Aiken County bat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on May 26, 2022, and was confirmed to have rabies on May 27, 2022. The Laurens County Skunk was submitted to DHEC’s laboratory on May 27, 2022, and was confirmed to have rabies on May 31, 2022.
You cannot tell if an animal has rabies by simply looking at it. Rabies must be confirmed in a laboratory. Exposure is defined as a bite, scratch, or contact with saliva or body fluids from an infected animal. Be sure to immediately wash any part of your body that may have come in contact with saliva or neural tissue with plenty of soap and water and seek medical attention. Never handle a wild or stray animal, alive or dead, with your bare hands.
“Rabid bats have been known to transmit the rabies virus,” said Terri McCollister, Rabies Program Team Leader. “People don’t always realize they or a pet have been bitten since bat teeth are tiny and bites are easy to overlook. Because of this, you should always assume a person or pet has potentially been bitten when:
- They wake up to find a bat in a room or tent;
- A bat is found where children, pets, or persons with impaired mental capacity (intoxicated or mentally disabled) have been left unattended; or
- They have been in direct contact with a bat.”
Any bat that could have had contact with people, pets, or livestock should be safely trapped in a sealed container and not touched. Never release a bat that has potentially exposed a person or pet, as it will be needed for rabies testing.
If you believe that you, someone you know, or your pets have come in contact with this bat, this skunk, or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Environmental Affairs Aiken Office at (803) 642-1637 or Greenwood Office at (864) 227-5915 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday), or after hours and on holidays at (888) 847-0902 (Select Option 2).
It is important to keep pets up to date on their rabies vaccination, as this is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect against the disease. This bat is the first animal in Aiken County and this skunk is the second animal in Greenwood County to test positive for rabies in 2022. There have been 29 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive cases a year. In 2021, three of the 101 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Aiken County and one was from Laurens County.
Contact information for your local Environmental Affairs Health offices is available at www.scdhec.gov/EAoffices. For more information on rabies, visit www.scdhec.gov/rabies or www.cdc.gov/rabies.