News Releases

News Releases

Rabid Bat Confirmed in Richland County; Pet Exposure

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                                 
Aug. 14, 2020 


COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that a bat found near North Trenholm Road and Springwood Road in Columbia, S.C. has tested positive for rabies and two pets were exposed.

The bat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on Aug. 12 and was confirmed to have rabies on Aug. 13. The pets will be quarantined as required in the South Carolina Rabies Control Act.

“Rabid bats have been known to transmit the rabies virus to humans and pets,” said David Vaughan, Director of DHEC's Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division. “People don’t always realize they’ve been bitten since bat teeth are tiny and bites are easy to overlook.”

Vaughan said residents should always assume they’ve been bitten if:

  • They wake up to find a bat in the 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
  • A person or pet has been in direct contact with a bat.”

Anyone who has been exposed or has an animal who has been exposed by a bite, scratch, or directly contacted with saliva or body fluids from an infected animal, please contact DHEC. Be sure to immediately wash any part of the body that may have come into contact with saliva or neural tissue with plenty of soap and water and seek medical attention.

Any bat that potentially had contact with people, pets, or livestock should be safely trapped and sealed in a container and untouched. 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 bare hands.

“Although bats can carry rabies, not every bat is infected with the virus. Bats are an important part of South Carolina's ecosystems and deserve a healthy degree of respect just like all wild animals,” said Vaughan. “You cannot tell if 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 includes daytime activity, inability to fly, and being found in places they are not usually seen, like in your home or on your lawn.”

If someone believes they, their family members, or pets have come into contact with this bat or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Environmental Affairs Columbia Office at (803) 896-0620 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday-Friday). To report a bite or exposure on holidays or times outside of normal business hours, please call the DHEC after-hours service number at (888) 847-0902.

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 fourth animal in  Richland County to test positive for rabies in 2020. There have been 93 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2011, South Carolina has averaged approximately 130 positive cases a year. In 2019, seven of the 148 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in  Richland County.

Contact information for local Bureau of Environmental Health Services offices is available at For more information on rabies, visit or



News Release Richland