Rabid bat confirmed in Aiken County; dog exposed

·2 min read

May 27—A bat exposed one dog to rabies in Aiken County, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The bat was found near Three Runs Plantation Drive between Snaffle Bit Drive and Rembert Place in Aiken. No humans were exposed, and the dog is currently in quarantine as required by the the S.C. Rabies Control Act. The bat was submitted for testing to DHEC's laboratory May 24 and was confirmed to have rabies May 25.

DHEC defines exposure to rabies as a bite, scratch or contact with bodily fluids. Potentially rabid animals should not be handled with bare hands and exposed body parts should be washed immediately with soap and water. If exposed, individuals should seek medical attention.

"Rabid bats have been known to transmit the rabies virus to people and pets," said Terri McCollister, DHEC rabies program team leader. "People don't always realize they've been bitten since bat teeth are tiny and bites are easy to overlook."

Some signs that a potential bat bite has occurred are if a person wakes up with a bat in a room or tent, a bat is found near children or pets left unattended, or if someone has been in direct contact with a bat.

Not all bats carry the rabies virus, however, unusual behavior like inability to fly or being found in abnormal locations may be an indicator.

"Bats are an important part of South Carolina's ecosystems and deserve a healthy degree of respect just like all wild animals," McCollister said.

Pets can be vaccinated against the rabies. In 2020, six of 168 cases statewide were found in Aiken County.

If you believe you have been exposed to rabies, call the DHEC county office at803-642-1637 during normal business hours. After hours, weekends and on holidays, call 888-847-0902 or visit https://scdhec.gov/ea-regional-offices.

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