Rabid Skunk Confirmed in Oconee County; Two Pets Exposed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 1, 2023
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that a skunk found near Fendley and Oakway roads in Westminster, S.C., has tested positive for rabies. No people are known to have been exposed at this time. Two dogs were exposed and will be quarantined as required in the South Carolina Rabies Control Act.
The skunk was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing May 30, 2023, and was confirmed to have rabies May 31, 2023. If you believe you, someone you know or your pets have come in contact with this skunk, or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Public Health Anderson office at (864) 372-3270 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday) or after hours and on holidays at (888) 847-0902 (Select Option 2).
"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals plenty of space," said Terri McCollister, Rabies Program team leader. "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 you believe 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 Public Health office. An exposure is defined as direct contact (such as through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth) with saliva or brain/nervous system tissue from an infected animal. If your pet is found with wounds of unknown origin, please consider that your pet may have been exposed to rabies.
It is important to keep pets up to date on their rabies vaccination, which is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect against the disease. This skunk is the second animal in Oconee County to test positive for rabies in 2023. There have been 24 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive cases a year. In 2022, five of the 83 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Oconee County.