bat

Image  by Todd Cravens - Unsplash.com. Free use photo

South Carolina DHEC confirmed that a bat found near Stonebrook Drive and Oakmist Way in Blythewood, SC has tested positive for rabies. No people are known to have been exposed at this time. One dog was exposed and will be quarantined as required in the South Carolina Rabies Control Act.

The bat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing Monday and was confirmed to have rabies Tuesday.

DHEC asks the community to report any known exposure of rabies. Exposure is defined as a bite, scratch, or contact with saliva or body fluids from an infected animal. If there has been an exposure, be sure to immediately wash any part of your body that may have come into contact with saliva or neural tissue and seek medical attention.

“Rabid bats have been known to transmit the rabies virus to humans and pets,” said Terri McCollister, rabies program team leader. “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 McCollister. 

Those who may have been exposed or have pets that have been exposed to rabies, contact DHEC's environmental affairs office at (803) 896-0620.

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 bat is the second animal in Richland County to test positive for rabies in 2021. There have been 13 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive cases a year. In 2020, eight of the 168 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Richland County.

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