UPDATED: Rabid Bobcat Confirmed in Florence County; One Pet Exposed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 24, 2020
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported on November 23, 2020, that a bobcat found near Jefferson Drive and S. Cashua Drive in Florence, S.C had tested positive for rabies. We now know that the incident did not occur where previously reported. The bobcat was actually found near River Neck Road and Paper Mill Road in Florence, S.C.. As reported on November 23, there are no known human exposures reported at this time. One dog was exposed and will be quarantined as required in the South Carolina Rabies Control Act.
The bobcat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on Nov. 19 and was confirmed to have rabies on Nov. 20.
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 a pet appears to have been bitten or scratched by this bobcat, or is found with wounds of unknown origin, please consider that the pet could have been exposed to rabies and contact DHEC's Environmental Affairs Florence office at (843) 661-4825 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 bobcat is the third animal in Florence County to test positive for rabies in 2020. Statewide this year, 159 animals have tested positive for rabies. Since 2011, South Carolina has averaged approximately 130 positive cases a year. In 2019, one of the 148 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina was in Florence County.