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Rabid Skunk Confirmed in Oconee County; One Pet Exposed

For Immediate Release: February 11, 2021  

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that a skunk found near Pine Grove Road and Outz Road in Townville, SC has tested positive for rabies. There are no known human exposures reported at this time. One dog was exposed and will be quarantined as required in the South Carolina Rabies Control Act.

The skunk was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on February 9th and was confirmed to have rabies on February 10th.

“Keeping your pets up to date on their rabies vaccination is the easiest way to protect you and your family from this deadly virus,” said Terri McCollister, Rabies Program Team Leader. “Any mammal has the ability to carry and transmit the disease to humans or pets. The key to prevention is to stay away from wild and stray animals and keep your pets current on their rabies vaccinations. In South Carolina, rabies is most often found in wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats, but pets are just as susceptible to the virus. If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it. Contact someone trained in handling animals, such as your local animal control officer, wildlife control officer, or a wildlife rehabilitator. If you believe that you or someone you know has had contact with or been potentially exposed to this or another suspect animal, please reach out to your local Environmental Affairs office. 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." 

If your pet is found with wounds of unknown origin, please consider that your pet may have been exposed to rabies and contact DHEC's Environmental Affairs Walhalla office at (864) 638-4185 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday) or after-hours and on holidays at (888) 847-0902 (Select Option 2).   This skunk is the first animal in Oconee County to test positive for rabies in 2021. There have been eight cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive cases a year. In 2020, five of the 168 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Oconee County.

Contact information for local Environmental Affairs Offices is available at www.scdhec.gov/EAoffices. For more information on rabies visit www.scdhec.gov/rabies or www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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