DHEC: Rabid bat found in Pickens

By Jason Evans

Staff Reporter

PICKENS — A bat found in Pickens tested positive for rabies, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Found near Mountain View Drive and South Glassy Mountain Church Road, the bat was submitted for testing on July 20 and confirmed to have rabies on July 21, a DHEC release said. The bat is the first animal to test positive for rabies in Pickens County this year, the release said.

“There is one potential human exposure to report at this time,” the release said. “Please contact DHEC if you know of any possible human or animal exposures.”

Exposure is defined as a bite, scratch or direct contact with saliva or body fluids from an infected animal, the release said.

“Rabid bats have been known to transmit the rabies virus to humans and pets,” said David Vaughan, director of DHEC’s Onsite Wastewater, 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.”

Vaughan said it should always be assumed a person has potentially been bitten when they wake up to find a bat in a room or tent, when a bat is found where children, pets or persons with impaired mental capacity (intoxicated or mentally disabled) has been left unattended or when a person or pet has been in direct contact with a bat, he said.

Any part of a person’s body that may have come into contact with saliva or neural tissue should immediately be washed with plenty of soap and water and the person should seek medical attention, the release said.

Any bat that could have had potential contact with people, pets or livestock should be safely trapped in a sealed container and not touched, the release said, adding that people should never handle a bat or any wild or stray animal — alive or dead — with bare hands.

“Never release a bat that has potentially exposed a person or pet,” the release said. ‘Once a bat is released, it cannot be tested for rabies.”

Rabies must be confirmed in a laboratory — you cannot tell if a bat or any other animal has rabies simply by looking at it, the release said.

Unusual bat behavior that might indicate the animal has rabies includes daytime activity, an inability to fly and being found in places they are not usually seen, like in your home or on your lawn, the release said.

If you believe you, family members or pets have come into contact with this bat or another animal that potentially has rabies, call DHEC’s Environmental Affairs Greenville office at (864) 372-3273 during normal business hours, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

To report bites or exposures on holidays or outside normal business hours, call 888-847-0902.

Keeping pets up to date on their rabies vaccination is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect against the disease, the release said.