News Releases

News Releases

Richland County Coyote Potentially Exposes Six People to Rabies

September 2, 2019

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today that six people have been referred to their health care providers after being potentially exposed to rabies by a coyote that tested positive for the disease.

The potential exposures occurred on Sept 1 when the victims were attacked by a coyote in Columbia, SC. The coyote was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on Sept 1 and was confirmed to have rabies later that day.

"Rabies is usually transmitted through a bite which allows saliva from an infected animal to be introduced into the body of a person or another animal. However, 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," said Vaughan.

It is also important to keep pets up to date on their rabies vaccination, as this is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can protect yourself, your family, and your pets from this fatal disease. 

If you have reason to believe that you, your family members, or your pets have come into contact with this coyote, or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Environmental Affairs Columbia office at (803) 896-0620 during normal business hours (M-F, 8:30-5:00). Be sure to immediately wash any part of your body that may have come into contact with saliva or neural tissue with plenty of soap and water and seek medical attention. To report a bite or exposure on holidays and/or times outside of normal business hours, please call the DHEC after-hours service number (888) 847-0902.

This coyote is the fourth animal in Richland County to test positive for rabies in 2019. There have been 99 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 108 positive cases a year. In 2018, four of the 100 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Richland County.

Contact information for local Bureau of Environmental Health Services’ offices is available at: For more information on rabies visit: or

DHEC Media Relations
(803) 898-7769



Media Relations News Release Rabies Richland