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Rabies in S.C.

Rabies in South Carolina

Rabies (Lyssavirus) is a deadly animal virus that attacks nerves in the spinal cord and brain. The virus can be passed to a healthy animal or a person if saliva from an animal with late-stage rabies gets into a wound or cut.

In South Carolina, rabies is most often found in:

  • Raccoons
  • Foxes
  • Skunks
  • Bats

It is also common in coyotes.

Rabies is almost never seen in squirrels, opossums, mice, rabbits and chipmunks.

Each year, from 15,000 to 39,000 Americans are vaccinated for rabies as a precaution after being bitten by animals – mostly unvaccinated dogs.

U.S. Death Rate Low Thanks to Vaccines

Very few Americans die from rabies – on average, only 1-2 per year since 1990.

In less developed parts of the world, it's different. About 50,000 people – most of them children – die from rabies annually.

The U.S. death rate from rabies is low thanks to pet vaccination campaigns and highly effective human rabies vaccinations for those who come in contact with rabies. Some states have also started vaccinating wild animal populations through vaccine-laced food.

By keeping your pet's rabies vaccination up to date, you help protect yourself, your family and your neighbors.

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 healthcare provider. The healthcare 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 bite by the end of the following business day.

Healthcare Providers and Veterinarians:

Consult with DHEC when evaluating possible rabies exposures.

We can help you make decisions about post-exposure prophylaxis.

Healthcare providers, make sure to report all animal bites to DHEC.


For additional information, contact: (803) 896-0655 Fax (803) 896-0645