Another Rabies Scare From a Bat

Found in Greenwood County

Patrick Gentry
August 30, 2018 - 11:02 am
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The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has referred one person to their health care provider for post-exposure treatment after being potentially exposed to rabies. The exposure occurred in Greenwood County by a bat that tested positive for rabies.

The potential exposure occurred when the victim was bitten by the bat on August 27. The bat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory on August 27 and confirmed to have rabies on August 28.

"Rabid bats have been known to transmit the rabies virus to humans and pets," said David Vaughan, Director of DHEC's Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division. "People don't always realize they've been bitten since bat teeth are tiny and bites are easy to overlook. Because of this, you should always assume a person has potentially been bitten when:

  • They wake up to find a bat in a room or tent;
  • A bat is found where children, pets, or persons with impaired mental capacity (intoxicated or mentally disabled) have been left unattended; or
  • A person or pet has been in direct contact with a bat.

Any bat that could have had potential contact with people, pets, or livestock should be safely trapped in a sealed container and not touched. Never release a bat that has potentially exposed a person or pet. Once a bat is released, it cannot be tested for rabies. Similarly, never handle a bat or any wild or stray animal, alive or dead, with your bare hands.

"Although bats can carry rabies, not every bat is infected with the virus. Bats are an important part of South Carolina's ecosystems and deserve a healthy degree of respect just like all wild animals," said Vaughan. You cannot tell a bat, or any other animal, has rabies by simply looking at it. Rabies must be confirmed in a laboratory. Unusual behavior in bats that might indicate the animal has rabies includes daytime activity, inability to fly, and being found in places they are not usually seen, like in your home or on your lawn.

If you think you may have been exposed to rabies from an animal, particularly if a bite, scratch, or contact with saliva or neural tissue occurred, immediately wash the affected area with plenty of soap and water. Be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to your local DHEC Bureau of Environmental Health Services' (BEHS) office during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM). To report a bite or exposure on holidays and/or times outside of normal business hours, please call the DHEC after-hours service number (888) 847-0902.

The bat was the fifth animal to test positive for rabies in Greenwood County this year. In 2017, 2 of the 63 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Greenwood County. There have been 66 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 110 positive cases a year.

Residents can contact their local Bureau of Environmental Health Services' office using DHEC's interactive map: http://www.scdhec.gov/EAOffices. For more information on rabies visit: www.scdhec.gov/rabies or www.cdc.gov/rabies/

For more information on how to safely capture a bat, please visit the Centers for Disease Control's website at https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/contact/capture.html

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