COLUMBIA, S.C. - One person has been recommended to discuss with their health care provider the option of receiving post-exposure treatment after being bitten by a rabid bat while outdoors in the Taylors area of Greenville County, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.
"Rabid bats have been known to transmit the virus to humans," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services (BEHS). "Bats have very small, sharp teeth that might feel like a mosquito bite, so people might not realize that they have been bitten. If you find a bat in a room where someone has been sleeping or where unattended children have been playing, please contact DHEC immediately."
"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," Craig said. "About 275 South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures coming from bites or scratches by a rabid or suspected rabid animal. Wild animals contract the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well."
"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," Craig said. "Be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC."
"Rabies is a threat to humans, pets and wild animals," Craig said. "All pet owners should have their dogs, cats and ferrets vaccinated regularly as required by state law. It is extremely important to the health of your pet, your family and you that pet vaccinations are kept up-to-date."
There were 124 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2013 in South Carolina. There have been 105 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. This animal is the fifth to test positive in 2014 from Greenville County. There were five animals that tested positive for rabies in Greenville County in 2013.
For more information about rabies, see DHEC's webpage at http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies or contact your local DHEC BEHS office at http://www.scdhec.gov/environment/behs/regions.htm. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's rabies webpages can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies and http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/.
Public Information Officer