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Rabid Skunks Confirmed: One Person Exposed in Oconee County and Two Pets Exposed in Lancaster County

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 14, 2021

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that: 

  • A skunk found near Lee Drive and Richey Road in Fair Play, S.C., has tested positive for rabies. One person was exposed and has been referred to their healthcare provider. 
  • A second skunk found near Cimmeron Road and Langley Road in Lancaster, S.C., has also tested positive for rabies. No people are known to have been exposed at this time. Two dogs were exposed and will be quarantined as required in the South Carolina Rabies Control Act.

Both skunks were submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on October 12, 2021, and were confirmed to have rabies on October 13, 2021.

“It is very important for you to seek medical attention if you have been exposed to a wild, stray, or domestic animal. The rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and can be transmitted through a bite, scratch, broken skin, and the mucous membranes of your eyes, nose, or mouth. Immediately wash the affected area with plenty of soap and water,” said Terri McCollister, Rabies Program Team Leader. “Contact your local Environmental Affairs office for further guidance.” 

Please report all animal bites, scratches, and exposures to potentially rabid animals to DHEC. If you believe that you, someone you know, or your pets have come in contact with either skunk or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Environmental Affairs Anderson office at (864) 260-5585 or Lancaster office at (803) 285-7461 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, as this is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect against the disease. Both skunks are the fourth animals in their respective counties to test positive for rabies in 2021. There have been 78 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive cases a year. In 2020, five of the 168 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Oconee County and three were in Lancaster 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.

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