Greenwood County rabies report fourth Upstate case since February

March 26, 2021

Greenwood, S.C. – As the warmer spring weather

Rabies collage by CDC

promotes more time outside, South Carolina DHEC is warning South Carolinians to be especially cautious of wild animals which might be carrying the rabies virus.

On Thursday DHEC received confirmation that a raccoon in Greenwood County had tested positive with rabies after it had exposed a family pet. The raccoon was submitted to DHEC labs on March 24.
Since October, there have been seven different reports of rabid skunks in the upstate. Cases in Oconee, Anderson, Abbeville and Spartanburg counties each involved skunks. The case in Greenwood is the first raccoon report in the upstate this year, but three of the Upstate skunk reports were all last month.

The DHEC website explains parents are required to report bites or rabies exposure to children either to health professionals or DHEC. But everyone should report all animal bites, scratches, and exposures to potentially rabid animals to DHEC.  State guidelines require domesticated cats, dogs and ferrets be vaccinated each year.

Parents should teach children to watch for any unusual behavior in a wild or domesticated animal and to stay away, according to the DHEC press release regarding the raccoon. That includes nocturnal animals which are out during the day or domestic animals with strange behavior.

While the majority of rabies found in animals in the state are in raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats, there was a domesticated goat in Anderson County which exposed nine people to rabies in March of 2019. The state doesn’t require livestock vaccines, but they are also vulnerable to attack by rabid wildlife. DHEC encourages vaccinations among horses and cows which have contact with humans.
The danger, however, is not always from an actual bite.

“It is very important for you to seek medical attention if you have been exposed to a wild, stray, or domestic animal. The rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and can be transmitted through a bite, scratch, broken skin, and the mucous membranes of your eyes, nose, or mouth. Immediately wash the affected area with plenty of soap and water,” said Terri McCollister, Rabies Program Team Leader. “Contact your local Environmental Health office for further guidance.”

Any pet with wounds of unknown origin should prompt a call to DHEC’s Environmental Affairs Greenwood office at (864) 227-5915 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday) or after hours and on holidays at (888) 847-0902 (Select Option 2).

It is important to keep pets up to date on their rabies vaccination, as this is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect against the disease. This raccoon is the first animal in Greenwood County to test positive for rabies in 2021. There have been 17 cases of rabid animals statewide so far this year. Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive cases a year. In 2020, three of the 168 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Greenwood County.

Contact information for local Environmental Affairs Offices is available at www.scdhec.gov/EAoffices. For more information on rabies, visit www.scdhec.gov/rabies or www.cdc.gov/rabies. Links also offer financial resources for eligible patients in need of post exposure treatments.

Leave a Comment