Confirmed by the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), a bat near downtown Charleston, SC has tested positive for rabies. As of now, only two humans risk exposure to the disease. The animal was originally discovered near Ashley Avenue and Race Street.
The bat became a confirmed case of rabies on Aug 1 after testing began on July 31. Those with any inclination of exposure are urged to wash any part of their body that may have been in contact with saliva or neural tissue before seeking medical attention. Exposure ranges from bites, scratches to direct contact with any of the infected animal’s body fluids.
“Although bats can carry rabies, not every bat is infected with the virus. Bats are an important part of South Carolina’s ecosystems and deserve a healthy degree of respect just like all wild animals,” explained David Vaughan, Director of DHEC’s Onsite Waterwaste, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division. “People don’t always realize they’ve been bitten since bat teeth are tiny and bites are easy to overlook.”
If you awake to find a bat in a room where people have been asleep or unattended, it’s important to safely trap the animal in a sealed container without touching it. Once a bat is released, it is no longer able to be tested for the disease.
Those with any inclination of exposure are urged to call the DHEC’s Environmental Affairs Charleston office at (843) 953-0150 during business hours of 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. To report an exposure outside of normal office hours, call the DHEC after-hours service number at (888) 847-0902.