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June 3, 2015

Raccoon exposes person to rabies in Lancaster County

COLUMBIA, S.C. - One person has been referred to their health care provider for treatment after being potentially exposed to rabies in the Camp Creek area of Lancaster County by a raccoon that tested positive for the disease, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

The exposure occurred on May 28, 2015. The raccoon had fought with the victim's dog. Afterward, the victim was potentially exposed to the raccoon's fresh saliva by the dog, either via its mouth or its coat. The raccoon tested positive for rabies on June 1.

The dog will undergo a 45-day quarantine as it is current on its rabies vaccination. If the dog had not been current on its rabies vaccination, a six-month quarantine would be required.

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services (BEHS). "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. "Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC."

According to Craig, it is difficult to determine if a wild or stray animal has rabies or some other type of illness, such as distemper or lead poisoning. If you see an animal behaving aggressively or abnormally, always play it safe. Do not touch or approach the animal, and keep your pets and children safely away from it.

If your pet is bitten, scratched, licked, or otherwise potentially exposed to an aggressive or abnormally behaving wild or stray animal, Craig recommends that you handle your pet with care as they have the potential to transmit the virus to you. Fresh, wet saliva from a rabid animal can be carried by your pet on its fur, paws, or even in its mouth. You can be exposed to the rabies virus if the fresh saliva is transferred to you, especially through contact with open wounds or your eyes, nose, or mouth.

During 2014, there were 139 confirmed cases of animal rabies in South Carolina. There have been 65 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. This animal is the first to test positive in 2015 from Lancaster County. There were seven that tested positive in that county in 2014.

Vaccination is always the best way to help protect your pet and your family from this disease. For additional information on rabies, visit, or contact your local DHEC BEHS office at The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's rabies webpages can be found at


Jim Beasley
Public Information Director