SCHeadlines

Rabid Otter In South Carolina Exposes One Human, Two Pets

State health agency encourages citizens to keep their pets up-to-date on vaccinations …

A rabid otter in Kershaw county, South Carolina has exposed one person and two pets according to a news release from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC). The animal was found near Trantham Road and Longtown Road in Ridgeway, South Carolina, the agency stated.

That’s just south of Lake Wateree, and near one of the streams that feeds into the Wateree River just north of Camden, S.C.

“One person was exposed and has been referred to their health care provider,” SCDHEC officials noted. “Two dogs were also exposed and will be quarantined as required in the South Carolina Rabies Act.”

The otter is the first animal in Kershaw county to test positive for rabies this year – and the fourth animal to test positive in the Palmetto State since 2021 began. Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 confirmed rabies cases annually. In 2020, there were 168 confirmed rabies cases – including 11 in Kershaw County. 

“Keeping your pets up to date on their rabies vaccination is the easiest way to protect you and your family from this deadly virus,” said Terri McCollister, SCDHEC’s rabies team leader. “Any mammal has the ability to carry and transmit the disease to people or pets. The key to prevention is to stay away from wild and stray animals and keep your pets current on their rabies vaccinations.”


“In South Carolina, rabies is most often found in wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats, but pets are just as susceptible to the virus,” McCollister added. “If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it. Contact someone trained in handling animals, such as your local animal control officer, wildlife control officer, or wildlife rehabilitator.”

Typically, rabies is transmitted through animal bites – in which the saliva of infected animals is transmitted to humans or other animals.

“Once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease nearly always causes death,” a fact sheet from the Mayo Clinic warned. “For this reason, anyone who may have a risk of contracting rabies should receive rabies vaccinations for protection.”

For more information on rabies visit this SCDHEC page or visit this page at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Those wishing to report a bite or possible rabies exposure on holidays or times outside of normal business hours are urged to call the SCDHEC after-hours service number at 888-847-0902.

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