Lancaster County Raccoon Potentially Exposes Two People to Rabies
For Immediate Release
October 17, 2018
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today that two people have been referred to their health care providers after being potentially exposed to rabies by a raccoon that tested positive for the disease.
The exposure occurred on Oct. 10 when the victims were scratched and bitten by the raccoon near the Town of Fort Mill. The raccoon was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on Oct. 12 and was confirmed to have rabies on Oct. 13.
"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 raccoon or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Environmental Affairs Lancaster office at (803) 285-7461 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 raccoon is the third animal in Lancaster County to test positive for rabies in 2018. There have been 80 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 110 positive cases a year. In 2017, two of the 63 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Lancaster 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/.