News Releases

News Releases

Rabid Otter Confirmed in Kershaw County; One Person and Two Pets Exposed

January 27, 20201

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that an otter found near Trantham Road and Longtown Road in Ridgeway, SC has tested positive for rabies. One person was exposed and has been referred to their healthcare provider. Two dogs were also exposed and will be quarantined as required in the South Carolina Rabies Act.

The otter was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on January 25th and was confirmed to have rabies on January 26th.

“Keeping your pets up to date on their rabies vaccination is the easiest way to protect you and your family from this deadly virus,” said Terri McCollister, Rabies Program Team Leader. “Any mammal has the ability to carry and transmit the disease to people or pets. The key to prevention is to stay away from wild and stray animals and keep your pets current on their rabies vaccinations. In South Carolina, rabies is most often found in wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats, but pets are just as susceptible to the virus. If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it. Contact someone trained in handling animals, such as your local animal control officer, wildlife control officer, or wildlife rehabilitator. If you believe that you or someone you know has had contact with or been potentially exposed to this or another suspect animal, please reach out to your local Environmental Affairs office. An exposure is defined as a bite, scratch, or contact with saliva (through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth) from an infected animal." 

If your pet is found with wounds of unknown origin, please consider that your pet could have been exposed to rabies and contact DHEC's Environmental Affairs Sumter office at (803) 778-6548 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday) or the DHEC after hours service number at (888) 847-0902 (Select Option 2). 
This otter is the first animal in Kershaw County to test positive for rabies in 2021. There have been four cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive cases a year. In 2020, 11 of the 168 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Kershaw County. 

Contact information for local Environmental Affairs Offices is available at For more information on rabies visit or


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