DHEC: Rabid raccoon enters Lexington Medical Center; one person exposed
LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WOLO) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says one person was exposed to rabies after a rabid raccoon entered the Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia.
Officials say the raccoon was confirmed to have rabies on December 19 and the exposed person was referred to their healthcare provider.
Terri McCollister, Rabies Program Team Leader, says in order to avoid getting rabies, “always give wild and stray animals plenty of space.”
She continued by saying, “If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it and contact someone trained in handling animals, such as your local animal control officer or wildlife rehabilitator.”
DHEC says you need to reach out to your local Environmental Affairs office if you or someone you know either had contact with or been potentially exposed to this raccoon or another suspect animal.
The department says this raccoon is the 14th animal in Lexington County to test positive for rabies in 2020.
According to DHEC, there have been 167 cases of rabid animals statewide this year.
Officials say since 2011, South Carolina has averaged approximately 130 positive cases a year. In 2019, 17 of the 148 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Lexington County.
DHEC says you need to keep your pets up to date with their rabies vaccination.
According to the department, if your pet is found with wounds of unknown origin, please consider that your pet could have been exposed to rabies and call the Columbia office at (803) 896-0620 during the weekday.
If you want to report a bite or exposure on holidays or on the weekend, call (888) 847-0902.