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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2013

Kershaw County bat positive for rabies

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A bat found in a home in the Bethune area has tested positive for rabies, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

“Bats have small teeth that might leave marks not easily seen,” said Sue Ferguson of DHEC’s Bureau of Environmental Health Services. “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.”

There were 137 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2012 in South Carolina. There have been 68 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. This animal is the second to test positive this year from Kershaw County.

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

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For media inquiries:
Lindsey Evans - (803) 898-1127
Email – evansl2@dhec.sc.gov