Health officials warn of 2 possible human rabies exposures from raccoons in Charleston County

Health officials warn of 2 possible human rabies exposures from raccoons in Charleston County
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control confirmed two cases of rabies in raccoons in Charleston County. (Source: Pexels)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control confirmed two cases of rabies in raccoons in Charleston County.

DHEC says two people may have been exposed to the virus.

The first raccoon was located near Ashley River Road and Sam Rittenberg Boulevard. One person was potentially exposed and was referred to their doctor. The animal was submitted to DHEC’s lab on Friday and confirmed to have rabies on Saturday.

The second raccoon was found near Palmetto Road and Palmetto Point Road on Edisto Island. One person was potentially exposed and has been referred to their health care provider as well. The second raccoon was sent to a DHEC lab for testing Friday and was confirmed on Monday to have tested positive for rabies.

DHEC Onsite Wasteater, Rabies Prevention and Enforcement Division Director David Vaughan said keeping pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccination is the easiest way to protect your family from the deadly virus.

“Any mammal has the ability to carry and transmit the disease to humans or pets. The key to prevention is to stay away from wild and stray animals and keep your pets current on their rabies vaccinations,” he said.

In South Carolina, rabies is most often found in wildlife like raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats, but pets are just as susceptible, he said.

“If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it,” he said. “Contact someone trained in handling animals, such as your local animal control officer or wildlife rehabilitator.”

DHEC says anyone who believes they have had contact with or been potentially exposed to a suspect animal should reach out to DHEC’s Environmental Affairs Charleston office at 843-953-0150 during normal business hours. 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.

An exposure is defined as a bite, a scratch, or contact with saliva or body fluids from an infected or possibly infected animal.

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