South Carolina DHEC confirmed that a bat found near Robbie Road and Muddy Springs Road in Lexington has tested positive for rabies.
No people are known to have been exposed at this time, however two dogs were 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 those in the area to report any possible exposures to people or animals. Those who have come in contact with a rabid animal are advised to immediately wash any part of your body that may have come into contact with saliva or neural tissue with plenty of soap and water and seek medical attention. Exposure is defined as a bite, scratch, or contact with saliva or body fluids from an infected animal.
“Rabid bats have been known to transmit the rabies virus to people and pets,” said Terri McCollister, rabies program team leader. “People don’t always realize they’ve been bitten as 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.”
DHEC advises those who find animals to never handle a bat or any wild or stray animal, alive or dead, with bare hands. 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.
“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. You cannot tell if 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.
Those who have come into contact with this bat or another animal that potentially has rabies, are asked to call DHEC's environmental affairs Columbia office at (803) 896-0620.