The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that a raccoon found near Highway 56 North in Clinton, SC between Countryside Circle and Springdale Drive has tested positive for rabies. One person was exposed and has been referred to their healthcare provider.
Two weeks ago DHEC announced a rabid raccoon in Greenwood County, and there have been six confirmed cases of rabies exposures from skunks in the upstate since October. There were four rabies exposure in Laurens County in 2020 and this is the county’s first exposure confirmed in 2021.
The raccoon from the Clinton area was submitted to DHEC’s laboratory for testing on April 6, 2021, and was confirmed to have rabies on April 7.
Please report all animal bites, scratches, and exposures to potentially rabid animals to DHEC. “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.”
If your pet is found with wounds of unknown origin, please consider that your pet may have been exposed to rabies and contact 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 Laurens County to test positive for rabies in 2021. There have been 21 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive cases a year. In 2020, four of the 168 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Laurens County.
In rare cases domestic livestock have also transmitted rabies to humans through saliva getting into cuts, and while vaccinations are not required for horses and cows and even goats, it’s recommended in certain situations.