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March 20, 2017

Lexington County raccoon potentially exposes one person to rabies

COLUMBIA, S.C. - One person has been referred to their healthcare provider for consultation after being potentially exposed to rabies by a raccoon that tested positive for the disease, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today.

The raccoon was found injured on the side of the road near Mt. Hermon Lutheran Church in West Columbia on March 10. The raccoon was taken to a wildlife rehabilitation facility, where the victim was bitten during examination of the animal. The raccoon was later submitted to DHEC's laboratory and confirmed to have rabies on March 15.

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend giving wild and stray animals their space," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "If you see an animal in need, avoid handling it and contact your local animal control office or wildlife rehabilitation facility."

"Rabies is transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the body of a healthy person or animal. This usually occurs through a bite; however, saliva contact with open wounds or areas such as the eyes, nose or mouth could also potentially transmit rabies," said Craig.

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

The raccoon is the second animal in Lexington County to test positive for rabies in 2017. There have been 10 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. In 2016, five of the 94 rabies cases in South Carolina were in Lexington County.

Contact your local DHEC Environmental Health Services office using DHEC's interactive map. For more information on rabies: visit CDC's rabies webpage can be found at:


DHEC Media Relations
(803) 898-7769