Charleston County bat positive for rabies

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A bat found in Charleston County has tested positive for rabies, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Tuesday.

"Incidents involving bats require that you seek medical advice even in the absence of an obvious bite wound," said Sue Ferguson of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health. "If you find a bat in your home, or if you see a bat in the room of an unattended child, or near a mentally impaired or an intoxicated person, you should seek medical advice and have the bat tested."

According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of the recent human rabies cases in the U.S. have been caused by exposure to rabid bats.

"About 275 South Carolinians are advised to undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures from being bitten or scratched by a rabid or suspected rabid animal," Ferguson said. "Wild animals carry the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well."

Ferguson said state law requires pet owners to have their pets are regularly vaccinated against the disease.

"If you think you have been exposed to the rabies virus through a bite, scratch or the saliva of a possibly infected animal, immediately wash the affected area with plenty of soap and water," she said. "Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC."

This is the third confirmed rabid animal of the year in Charleston County. Three rabid animals were confirmed there last year. There were 107 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2011 in South Carolina. There have been 75 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year.

Information provided by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.