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Rabid Raccoon Confirmed in Beaufort County; Six Stray Cats Potentially Exposed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 19, 2021

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that a raccoon found near Outlaw Road and Squire Pope Road in Hilton Head Island, S.C., has tested positive for rabies. This is an ongoing investigation. No people are known to have been exposed at this time. Six cats were observed in the area and were potentially exposed.

The raccoon was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on November 16, 2021, and was confirmed to have rabies on November 17, 2021.

“To reduce the risk of contracting 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.” 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. Stray and feral cats serve as a significant source for rabies exposure. If pets in the area have received any wounds of unknown origin or been seen interacting with stray cats in recent weeks, please contact a local veterinarian’s office. 

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 Beaufort office at (843) 846-1030 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 third animal in Beaufort County to test positive for rabies in 2021. There have been 89 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive cases a year. In 2020, seven of the 168 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Beaufort County.

Contact information for local Environmental Affairs offices is available at For more information on rabies visit or