Raccoon on Greeneway Trail may have exposed someone in Aiken to rabies

March 21, 2019

Someone in Aiken County may have been exposed to rabies following an unfriendly encounter with a wild raccoon, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

According to a DHEC press release, the victim was on the North Augusta Greeneway Walking Trail on March 16 when they were bitten by a raccoon. The raccoon was later submitted to DHEC and tested positive for rabies.

The victim who was bitten has since been referred to their health care provider.

The raccoon on the Greeneway trail was the third animal diagnosed with rabies in Aiken County this year. Statewide, there have been 32 confirmed cases of rabies in 2019.

Coyotes, foxes and skunks are also common carriers of the virus.

Although it is extremely rare in people, rabies can be spread to humans and can also claim the lives of pets. The virus causes hallucinations, hydrophobia (fear of water), aggression and death in its final stages.

Rabies is normally spread through bites, but can also be spread when open wounds or areas like the eyes, nose or mouth come into contact with saliva or blood of an infected animal. Infected areas should be washed with soap and water and medical attention should be sought immediately.

If a wild animal is foaming at the mouth and shows a lack of motor control (stumbling, staggering or bumping into things) it may have rabies. Rabid animals are often very aggressive and do not fear people or other animals.

“To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals their space,” Vaughan said. “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 also stresses the importance of keeping pets up to date on their rabies shots to prevent the spread of the disease.

For more information, call DHEC’s Environmental Affairs Aiken office at 803-642-1637 during normal business hours on weekdays.