DHEC: 4 people exposed to rabid bat getting treatment

by: Greg Suskin Updated:


ROCK HILL, S.C. - South Carolina health officials sent an alert Wednesday about four people exposed to a rabid bat.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control can't tell Channel 9 who was exposed to rabies, what neighborhood it happened in or how it happened due to privacy laws.

However, all four people are being treated at Piedmont Medical Center.

It's believed that the exposure was connected to a single incident, but officials wouldn't say if the victims were related.

All four people came to the Infusion Center at Piedmont Medical Center Tuesday after DHEC contacted them about the test results.

Piedmont nurse and infection specialist Eleanor Raymes said being in the same room as a rabid animal puts you at risk. You don't have to be bitten or scratched.

“If the person was in bed, and there was a bat that just so happened to fly in the window and land on the bed, there's a chance that they were exposed to the saliva from that," she said.

Health officials won't say what happened in this case but Raymes said it's rare that bats are the culprit at all.

"In York County it's usually a fox. Every year you're going to hear of a fox that they think or may definitely have been rabid," she said.

DHEC reported that the bat is the ninth animal to test positive for rabies in York County this year. There were 12 last year.

Statewide 124 animals tested positive for rabies in 2013 and 75 have this year.

On average 275 people are treated for rabies exposure every year in South Carolina.

Officials at the hospital would only tell Channel 9 the four people exposed have had the first round of shots and will be back several more times for continued treatment.

Read more information on rabies from the Centers for Disease Control.