Rabid Raccoon Confirmed in Charleston County; No Human or Pet Exposures
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that a raccoon found near Wellington Drive and Weir Street in Charleston, SC has tested positive for rabies. There are no known human or pet exposures reported at this time.
The raccoon was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on January 19th and was confirmed to have rabies on January 20th.
Exposure is defined as a bite, scratch, or contact with saliva or body fluids from an infected animal. "Rabies is usually transmitted through a bite or scratch which allows saliva from an infected animal to be introduced into the body of a person or another animal. However, infected saliva or neural tissue contact with open wounds or areas such as the eyes, nose, or mouth could also potentially transmit rabies," said Terri McCollister, Rabies Program Team Leader. "To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals their space. If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it and contact someone trained in handling animals, such as your local animal control officer, wildlife control operator, or wildlife rehabilitator."
If your pet appears to have been bitten or scratched by this raccoon or is found with wounds of unknown origin, please consider that your pet could have been exposed to rabies and contact DHEC's Environmental Affairs Charleston office at (843) 953-0150 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5:00 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 and 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 raccoon is the second animal in Charleston County to test positive for rabies in 2020. Statewide this year, three animals have tested positive for rabies. Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive cases a year. In 2020, 45 of the 168 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Charleston County.