FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 22, 2021
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that a raccoon found near Hollywood Drive and South Gregg Street in Columbia, SC has tested positive for rabies. No people or pets are known to have been exposed at this time.
The raccoon was submitted to DHEC’s laboratory for testing on December 20, 2021, and was confirmed to have rabies on December 21, 2021.
“To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals plenty of space,” said Terri McCollister, Rabies Program Team Leader. “If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it and contact someone trained in handling animals, such as your local animal control officer, wildlife control operator, or wildlife rehabilitator.”
If you believe that you or someone you know has had contact with or been potentially exposed to this or another suspect animal, please reach out to your local Environmental Affairs office. An exposure is defined as direct contact (such as through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth) with saliva or brain/nervous system tissue from an infected animal. If your pet is found with wounds of unknown origin, please consider that your pet may have been exposed to rabies.
If you believe that you, someone you know, or your pets have come in contact with this raccoon, or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC’s Environmental Affairs Columbia office at (803) 896-0620 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday) or after hours and on holidays at (888) 847-0902 (Select Option 2).
It is important to keep pets up to date on their rabies vaccination which is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect against the disease. This raccoon is the eleventh animal in Richland County to test positive for rabies in 2021. There have been 99 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.
Contact information for local Environmental Affairs offices is available at www.scdhec.gov/EAoffices. For more information on rabies visit www.scdhec.gov/rabies or www.cdc.gov/rabies.