2 pets potentially exposed to rabies by raccoon

2 pets potentially exposed to rabies by raccoon
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control confirmed a raccoon in Hilton Head tested positive for rabies forcing two pets into quarantine. (Source: AP)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control confirmed a raccoon in Hilton Head tested positive for rabies forcing two pets into quarantine.

The raccoon was found near Lagoon Road and Egret Street, DHEC officials say. It was submitted to DHEC’s laboratory for testing Friday and lab results confirmed it was rabid on Monday.

“Keeping your pets up to date on their rabies vaccination is the easiest way to protect you and your family from this deadly virus,” Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division Director David Vaughan said. “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!"

In South Carolina, wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats are the most common carriers of rabies, but pets are just as susceptible to the virus, he said.

If you believe that you or someone you know has had contact with or been potentially exposed to this or another suspect animal, please reach out to your local Environmental Affairs office.

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

If your pet is found with wounds of unknown origin, please consider that your pet could have been exposed to rabies and contact DHEC’s Environmental Affairs Beaufort office at 843-846-1030 during normal business hours, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday. 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.

This raccoon is the seventh animal in Beaufort County to test positive for rabies in 2020.

There have been 129 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2011, South Carolina has averaged approximately 130 positive cases a year. In 2019, four of the 148 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Beaufort County.

Copyright 2020 WCSC. All rights reserved.