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News Releases

Beaufort County Raccoon Potentially Exposes One Person to Rabies

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today that one person has been referred to their health care provider after being potentially exposed to rabies by a raccoon that tested positive for the disease.

The potential exposure occurred on Dec. 27, 2018 when the victim was bitten by a raccoon that was found on Lady's Island Drive in the area south of Red Oak in Beaufort County. The raccoon was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on Dec. 31, 2018 and was confirmed to have rabies on Jan. 1, 2019. 

"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. "If any part of your body may have come in contact with saliva or neural tissue, be sure to immediately wash the area with plenty of soap and water and seek medical attention."

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 raccoon or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Environmental Affairs Beaufort office at (843) 846-1030 during normal business hours (M-F, 8:30-5:00) or after-hours at (888) 847-0902.

This raccoon is the first animal in Beaufort County to test positive for rabies in 2019. There were 100 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide in 2018. Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 108 positive cases a year. In 2018, nine of the 100 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Beaufort County.

Contact information for local Bureau of Environmental Health Services' offices is available at: http://www.scdhec.gov/EAOffices. For more information on rabies visit: www.scdhec.gov/rabies or www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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