DHEC file photo. A rabid bat was confirmed on Daniel Island earlier this month. This image is of an evening bat and is not the rabid bat.

Rabid bat confirmed on Daniel Island, no know exposure

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that a bat found near Crown Pointe and Barfield streets on Daniel Island tested positive for rabies. No people or pets are known to have been exposed.

The bat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing November 9 and was confirmed to have rabies November 13.  If you believe you, someone you know or your pets have come in contact with this bat or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Public Health Charleston office at (843) 953-4713 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday) or after hours and on holidays at (888) 847-0902 (Select Option 2).

DHEC advises to never handle a bat or any wild or stray animal, alive or dead, with your bare hands. Any bat that could have had potential contact with people, pets or livestock should be safely trapped in a sealed container (i.e., Tupperware, jar with lid, small box taped shut, etc.) and kept cold, not frozen. Once a bat is released, it can’t be tested for rabies, which makes it difficult to know whether a potentially bitten person or pet has been exposed. Contact a wildlife control operator or visit the DHEC bat webpage to learn how to safely capture a bat so it can be tested.

“Rabid bats have been known to transmit the rabies virus,” said Terri McCollister, Rabies Program director. “People don’t always realize they or a pet have been bitten since bat teeth are tiny and bites are easy to overlook.”

DHEC further advises, you should always assume a person or pet has potentially been bitten when:

• They wake up to find a bat in a room, living space or tent;

• A bat is found where children, pets or persons with impaired mental capacity (intoxicated or mentally disabled) have been left unattended; or

• They have been in direct contact with a bat.

“Although bats can carry rabies, not every bat is infected with the virus," McCollister said. "Bats are an important part of South Carolina's ecosystems and deserve a healthy degree of respect just like all wild animals."

You cannot tell if a bat, or any other animal, has rabies by simply looking at it. Rabies must be confirmed in a laboratory. Unusual behavior in bats that might indicate the animal has rabies include daytime activity, inability to fly and being found in places they are not usually seen, like in your home or on your lawn.

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. Be sure to immediately wash any part of your body that may have come in contact with saliva or neural tissue with plenty of soap and water and seek medical care, DHEC advises.

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.

There have been 72 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive cases a year.

Contact information for your local Public Health offices is available at scdhec.gov/RabiesContacts. For more information on rabies, visit scdhec.gov/rabies or cdc.gov/rabies.

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555

 

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