CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Two people may have been exposed to a rabid bat last week in downtown Charleston, according to state health officials.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control confirmed that a bat was found near Ashley Avenue and Race Street that has tested for rabies.
Two potential human exposures were reported.
Health officials say the bat was submitted to DHEC’s laboratory for testing on July 31 and was confirmed to have rabies on August 1.
“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.”
Vaughn said it’s safe to assume you’ve been bitten if:
- You wake up to find a bat in a room or tent;
- A bat is found where children, pets, or persons with impaired mental capacity (intoxicated or mentally disabled) have been left unattended; or
- A person or pet has been in direct contact with a bat.”
- Any bat that could have had potential contact with people, pets, or livestock should be safely trapped in a sealed container and not touched. Never release a bat that has potentially exposed a person or pet. Once a bat is released, it cannot be tested for rabies. Similarly, never handle a bat or any wild or stray animal, alive or dead, with your bare hands.
Contact DHEC if you know of any possible human or animal exposures. Be sure to immediately wash any part of your body that may have come into contact with saliva or neural tissue with plenty of soap and water and seek medical attention.
Exposure is defined as a bite, scratch, or direct contact with saliva or body fluids from an infected animal.