Rabid Raccoon Confirmed in Lee County; One Person and Two Pet Exposures
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 3, 2020
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that a raccoon found near Red Hill Road and Dogwood Road in Bishopville, SC has tested positive for rabies. One person has been referred to their healthcare provider for a potential exposure. Two dogs were exposed and will be quarantined as required in the South Carolina Rabies Control Act.
The raccoon was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on November 30th and was confirmed to have rabies on December 1st.
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 David Vaughan, Director of DHEC's Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division. "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 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 Sumter office at (803) 778-6548 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.
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 first animal in Lee County to test positive for rabies in 2020. Statewide this year, 163 animals have tested positive for rabies. Since 2011, South Carolina has averaged approximately 130 positive cases a year. In 2019, there were no confirmed cases of rabies in Lee County. There were, however, 148 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina.
Contact information for local Environmental Affairs Offices is available at www.scdhec.gov/EAoffices. For more information on rabies visit www.scdhec.gov/rabies or www.cdc.gov/rabies.