Untamed Lowcountry

Hurricane Matthew brought wind, rain —and the potential for rabies

Wild animals displaced during the storm could carry rabies, DHEC warns.
Wild animals displaced during the storm could carry rabies, DHEC warns. Staff

Two people in Beaufort County have started treatment after potentially being exposed to rabies by a baby raccoon that tested positive for the disease, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported last week.

On Sept. 29, one victim picked up the juvenile raccoon on the side of the road near the Beaufort Town Center and was bitten, DHEC’s news release said.

The raccoon began “acting abnormally,” and tested positive for rabies in DHEC’s laboratory the next day.

The other victim was potentially exposed to saliva while handling and changing water bowls, DHEC spokesman Robert Yanity said in an email Tuesday.

"Due to Hurricane Matthew, there may be an increase in wild animals that have been displaced,” warned Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services in the release. “Always play it safe and give animals their space, particularly (around) wild and stray animals.”

The raccoon is the 11th animal in Beaufort County to test positive for rabies in 2016. That’s more than double the number of positive rabies cases the county has seen in each of the past six years.

Kelly Meyerhofer: 843-706-8136, @KellyMeyerhofer

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