Bat tests positive for rabies in Aiken County

A dog came into contact with a rabid bat (not this one). (Source: Pixabay)
A dog came into contact with a rabid bat (not this one). (Source: Pixabay)
Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 2:30 PM EDT
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JACKSON, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - A bat found near Old Nail Road in Jackson has tested positive for rabies.

No people are known to have been exposed at this time, but a cat was exposed and will be quarantined.

The bat was submitted to a state lab for testing on Friday and was confirmed to have rabies on Monday.

The rabid bat was reported just a few days after a dead raccoon in Richmond County tested positive for rabies. The racoon was found June 21 in a yard in the Meadowbrook area of Augusta.

State experts say rabid bats and other animals animals can easily infect people.

“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 and not touched,” said Terri McCollister, DHEC’s rabies program team leader.

And unvaccinated pets can get infected, as well.

“People don’t always realize they or a pet have been bitten since bat teeth are tiny and bites are easy to overlook,” McCollister said.

Because of this, it should be assumed a person or pet has potentially been bitten by a bat when:

  • They wake up to find a bat in a room or tent.
  • A bat is found where children, pets or persons with impaired mental capacity have been left unattended.
  • They have been in direct contact with a bat.

Bats aren’t inherently bad.

“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,” McCollister said. “You can’t 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 includes 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 attention.

If you believe that you, someone you know, or your pets have come in contact with this bat or another animal that potentially has rabies, call 803-642-1637 during normal business hours. After hours and on holidays, call 888-847-0902 and select option 2.

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