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October 11, 2016

Beaufort County raccoon potentially exposes two people to rabies

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Two people have started post-exposure treatment after potentially being exposed to rabies by a baby raccoon that tested positive for the disease, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today.

On Sept. 29, a victim picked up the juvenile raccoon on the side of the road near the Beaufort Town Center. The victims were exposed while providing care for the animal. The raccoon began acting abnormally, and was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on Sept. 30. It was confirmed to have rabies the next day.

"Rabies is a deadly virus that is transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the 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.

"Due to Hurricane Matthew, there may be an increase in wild animals that have been displaced. Always play it safe and give animals their space, particularly wild and stray animals. If you see an animal in need, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in your area," said Craig.

Hundreds of South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, due to exposure to a rabid or suspected rabid animal.

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 raccoon is the 11th animal in Beaufort County to test positive for rabies in 2016. There have been 79 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. In 2015, three of the 130 rabies cases in South Carolina were in Beaufort County.

Find a licensed wildlife rehabilitator at: For more information on rabies visit, or contact your local DHEC BEHS office at CDC's rabies webpage can be found at


DHEC Media Relations