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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2012

Oconee County bat positive for rabies

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A bat found in the Mountain Rest area of Oconee County has tested positive for rabies, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

“In this case, the victim knows he was in contact with the bat. However, bats have small teeth that might leave marks not easily seen,” said Sue Ferguson of DHEC’s Bureau of Environmental Health. “Some situations require medical advice even in the absence of an obvious bite wound. If you awaken and find a bat in your room, often referred to as ‘overnighting,’ or if you see a bat in the room of an unattended child, or near a mentally impaired or intoxicated person, seek medical advice and have the bat tested.”

According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of the recent human rabies cases in the U.S. have been caused by exposure to rabid bats.

“About 275 South Carolinians are advised to undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures from being bitten or scratched by a rabid or suspected rabid animal,” Ferguson said. “Wild animals carry the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well.”

Ferguson said state law requires pet owners to have their pets regularly vaccinated against the disease.

“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,” she said. “Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC.”

This is the third confirmed rabid animal of the year in Oconee County. One rabid animal was confirmed there last year. There were 107 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2011 in South Carolina. There have been 86 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year.

For more information about rabies, see DHEC's webpage at: http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies or contact your local DHEC environmental health office. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's webpage about rabies can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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For media inquiries:
Adam Myrick – (803) 898-3884
Email – myrickar@dhec.sc.gov
MNR0619