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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 5, 2016

Greenville County bat potentially exposes two people to rabies; others could be at risk

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is working to identify and contact anyone who had potential contact with a bat near the Greenville Zoo that tested positive for the rabies virus.

The bat was found at the playground area near Shelter 30, in front of the Greenville Zoo on Saturday, Oct. 1 around 3:30 p.m. It was reported that several young children handled the bat before it was turned over to zoo personnel. The bat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on Oct. 4 and confirmed to have rabies Oct. 5.

DHEC is working with Greenville City Parks and the Greenville Zoo to identify anyone who may have had contact with the sick bat. DHEC recommends that anyone who had direct contact with a bat near the Greenville Zoo around this time seek immediate medical attention. 

If you have a question or concern about possible exposure, please contact DHEC's Environmental Health Services Greenville office at (864) 372-3273. Operators are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. During times outside of normal business hours or on holidays, please call (888) 847-0902.

The most common source of human rabies in the United States is from bats. And because bats have very small teeth, their bites can easily go unnoticed. Therefore, it's important to identify anyone who had potential contact with the bat that tested positive for rabies so that rabies post-exposure treatment can be started as soon as possible.

"Rabies is a deadly, but preventable, viral disease that is transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the human body, usually through a bite, or contact with an open wound or areas such as the mouth or eyes," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services.

"Always play it safe and give animals their space, particularly wild and stray animals. Unfortunately, hundreds of South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, due to exposure to a rabid or suspected rabid animal," Craig said.

In addition to being cautious around wild or stray animals, keeping your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccination is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can protect yourself, your family and your pets from this fatal disease.

The bat is the third animal in Greenville County to test positive for rabies in 2016. There have been 80 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. In 2015, four of the 130 rabies cases in South Carolina were in Greenville County.

For more information on rabies visit http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies, or contact your local DHEC BEHS office at http://www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/DHECLocations/. CDC's rabies webpage can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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DHEC Media Relations
media@dhec.sc.gov
803.898.1127