Rabid Raccoon Found in Island Garage
A rabid raccoon, which found its way into an island garage, was later caught by Animal Control in the marsh behind the family’s Barfield Street home. The raccoon did not bite any person or animal and no one was exposed to rabies.Matt Shiers, Environmental Health Manager for Rabies Prevention for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Resources, confirmed late last week that the raccoon tested positive for rabies.
Rabies is a viral disease that attacks nerve and brain tissue. It is a deadly disease with no cure but a vaccine is available to prevent the disease and is usually administered after exposure. In South Carolina, wild animals account for the highest number of reported rabies cases. Animals that are most likely affected are raccoons, foxes, skunks and bats. Rarely infected are rats, mice, squirrels, rabbits and hamsters.
On Saturday, August 13, Ronda and Bob Schilling and their two children discovered the raccoon crying in a pile of shoes in their garage. Ronda Schilling said she tried to scare the raccoon from the garage by throwing a shoe at it. The raccoon did not respond. “I could tell it was sick,” Schilling said, “It did not respond to loud noises or throwing things.”
After calling Animal Control, the family kept track of the raccoon. It eventually left the garage and weaved along the side of the house, “like it was drunk,” Schilling said. Schilling described the raccoon’s odd behavior: the raccoon sat back on its rump with all four legs out in front if it, made whining and crying noises, began hitting its own stomach and pulling out it own hair. The raccoon made its way back into the edge of the swamp, where Animal Control officers caught it without much effort.
Shiers said that DHEC does not normally test a raccoon that has not bitten anyone but that, in this instance, they tested the raccoon because the Animal Control report their office received was unclear as to whether a person or animal was exposed.
Rabies is endemic throughout the lowcountry, Shiers said. Earlier this summer a rabid fox bit a boy on a playground in West Ashley.
Shiers recommended that pet owners keep their pet’s vaccines current, that people not feed wild animals and that they call animal control if an animal looks like it might be a hazard.
Schilling said that her family often sees raccoons in the marsh and that several baby raccoons were living in a marsh tree earlier this summer.