Bat with rabies found around downtown Columbia, exposes one person

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A rabid bat was found near downtown Columbia, the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control said Monday.

At least one person was exposed to the bat, which tested positive for rabies, and has been referred to a health care provider.

DHEC’s lab testing for the bat was conducted on Oct. 14 and confirmed the next day. The bat was found near Henderson Street and Hampton Street.

Only one known human has died from rabies over the past 50 years in South Carolina.

DHEC strongly encourages people to not handle bats or any wild or stray animals with bare hands, regardless of whether the animal is dead or alive.

Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive rabies cases a year. In 2020, eight of the 168 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Richland County.

“Rabid bats have been known to transmit the rabies virus,” said Terri McCollister, DHEC’s Rabies Program Team Leader. “People don’t always realize they or a pet have been bitten since bat teeth are tiny and bites are easy to overlook.”

If you believe that you, someone you know or your pets have come in contact with this bat or another animal that potentially has rabies, call DHEC’s Environmental Affairs Columbia office at (803) 896-0620 during normal business hours.

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