COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - State health department officials say a raccoon that tested positive for rabies may have exposed one person in Beaufort County to the virus.
The potential exposure happened on Tuesday when the victim was bitten by the raccoon near the Old Point area of downtown Beaufort. The animal was sent to a Department of Health and Environmental Control lab on Wednesday and test results confirmed it had rabies the following day.
The victim was referred to his or her health care provider for preventative treatment. DHEC has not identified the age or gender of the victim.
“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,” DHEC Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention and Enforcement Division Director David Vaughan said. “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.”
This raccoon is the eighth animal in Beaufort County to test positive for rabies in 2018. There have been 84 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 110 positive cases a year. In 2017, 5 of the 63 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Beaufort County.