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Rabies in South Carolina

Rabies is a virus (Lyssavirus) that can be transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the body of a healthy person or animal. It infects cells in the central nervous system, causing disease in the brain and, ultimately, death.

Any mammal has the ability to carry and transmit the disease to humans or pets. Rabies is transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the body. Exposure can occur through a bite, scratch or contact with saliva to broken skin or mucous membranes such as the eyes or mouth.

In South Carolina, the primary carriers of rabies are:

  • Raccoons
  • Skunks
  • Foxes
  • Bats

It's important to remember that rabies is a medical urgency, but not an emergency. Rabies in humans is 100% preventable through prompt, appropriate medical care. Yet, more than 55,000 people die from rabies every year – a rate of one person every ten minutes.


Join us in the fight to #EndRabies by keeping your pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) up-to-date on their rabies vaccination. You can also vaccinate livestock such as horses, cows and sheep. This not only protects your animal, it protects you and your family from this deadly virus.

Here are some links to low-cost mobile clinic schedules serving communities across South Carolina:

If you operate a low-cost rabies vaccination clinic and would like to be linked on this page, please email

Rabies in the U.S.

Over the last 100 years, rabies in the United States has changed dramatically. More than 90% of all animal cases reported annually to CDC now occur in wildlife. Before 1960 the majority were in domestic animals. 

The number of rabies-related human deaths has declined from more than 100 annually to one or two per year. Human fatalities associated with rabies occur in people who fail to seek medical assistance, usually because they were unaware of their exposure.

The number of post-exposure treatments given in the United States each year is estimated to be about 40,000 to 50,000. Although the cost varies, treatment typically exceeds $3,000 per person.

Rabies around the World

Exposure to rabid dogs is the cause of over 90% of human exposures to rabies, and of over 99% of human deaths worldwide. The majority of human exposures and deaths involve children.

Most deaths from rabies occur in countries with inadequate public health resources and limited access to preventive treatment.

Health Care Providers and Veterinarians

Make sure to report all animal incidents to DHEC. Consultations with DHEC medical staff are available when evaluating possible rabies exposures, to help you determine if post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) should be administered.

Health Care Providers and Veterinarians:

Report Animal Bites to DHEC

If you're bitten or scratched by a wild, stray or unvaccinated animal care for the wound properly and contact your health care provider. The health care provider is required to report the incident to DHEC.

If your child is bitten and you do not seek medical treatment for the wound, you are required to contact your regional DHEC Environmental Health Services office to report the incident by the end of the following business day.