Rabid Raccoon Confirmed in Beaufort County; Ten Human Exposures
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 8, 2020
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that a raccoon found on June 30 near May River Road and Pritchard Farms Road in Bluffton has tested positive for rabies. Ten people were exposed and have been referred to their health care providers. The agency is still investigating additional potential exposures to this animal.
The raccoon was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on July 6 and was confirmed to have rabies on July 7.
“To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals plenty of space," said David Vaughan, Director of DHEC's Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division. "If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it. Contact someone trained in handling animals, such as your local animal control officer or wildlife rehabilitator. The possibility of exposure to rabies can occur anywhere, anytime. 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, a scratch, or contact with saliva or body fluids from an infected, or possibly 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 Beaufort office at (843) 846-1030 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 raccoon is the fourth animal in Beaufort County to test positive for rabies in 2020. There have been 66 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2011, South Carolina has averaged approximately 130 positive cases a year. In 2019, 4 of the 148 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Beaufort County.