Spartanburg Raccoon Poses Public Health Threat DHEC Warns; Multiple People Bitten
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
JUNE 8, 2022
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has been unable to perform rabies testing on a Spartanburg raccoon— kept as a pet—who reportedly bit several individuals. DHEC has issued a notice and separate public health order requiring the owner to surrender the animal for rabies testing, but the owner has not yet complied.
The owner told DHEC officials the raccoon has bitten people numerous times before, but the exact dates of all the bites are unknown. The raccoon was kept at a home indoors but previously had access to the outdoors through a doggie door for an unknown time. Because the raccoon’s current location is unknown, DHEC is concerned the raccoon could pose an ongoing public health risk.
The raccoon was kept near Tiger Paw Court in the City of Spartanburg. If you or someone you know was bitten by this or any raccoon, please seek medical attention immediately at your local hospital and contact DHEC. The provider needs to know you have been bitten by a raccoon that has not been tested for rabies.
Rabies is a preventable viral disease most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system of mammals, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. Most rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DHEC each year occur in wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Although any mammal can get rabies, racoons are the primary carrier of rabies in South Carolina.
If a person is bitten by a mammal known to have rabies, or which is unavailable for testing, a series of shots, called Rabies Postexposure Prophylaxis (PEP), must be given to the individual to prevent rabies from developing. These shots can be very expensive, but this treatment is vital to prevent this deadly disease.
Rabies vaccinations are effective for domesticated cats, dogs, and ferrets. There is no data or evidence to prove that rabies shots given to wild animals, including raccoons, would protect them from getting rabies or spreading it to people bitten by these animals.
If you know the location of this raccoon, please contact DHEC's Environmental Affairs Spartanburg office at 864-596-3327 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). By providing the raccoon’s location you are protecting others from potential bites, and potentially fatal rabies. The name of any individual who provides information about the location will be kept confidential and reports may be made anonymously.