RIDGELAND, S.C. (WSAV) – A raccoon in Jasper County has tested positive for rabies for the first time this year.
According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), the raccoon was found near Morgandollar Road (Highway 462) and Log Hall Road in Ridgeland.
One pet was exposed to the animal. An exposure is defined by DHEC as a bite, a scratch or contact with saliva or body fluids from an infected or possibly infected animal.
The department says testing occurred on Sept. 24 and the raccoon was confirmed to have rabies the following day.
“Any mammal has the ability to carry and transmit the disease to humans or pets,” a statement from DHEC reads, in part. “The key to prevention is to stay away from wild and stray animals and keep your pets current on their rabies vaccinations!”
Officials say in South Carolina, rabies is most often found in wildlife, but pets are just as susceptible to the virus.
If you come across an animal in need, DHEC urges you to avoid touching it. Contact your local animal control or a wildlife rehabilitator instead.
Wounds of unknown origin on your pet could indicate a possible rabies exposure. To report it, contact DHEC’s Environmental Affairs Beaufort office at 843-846-1030 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday). To report a bite or exposure on holidays or times outside of normal business hours, please call the DHEC after-hours service number at 888-847-0902.
DHEC says this raccoon is the first animal in Jasper County to test positive for rabies in 2020.
There have been 127 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2011, South Carolina has averaged approximately 130 positive cases a year. In 2019, two of the 148 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Jasper County.