A middle-aged Sumter County woman has contracted the rabies virus–the first case in South Carolina in more than 50 years, says Department of Health and Environmental Control spokesperson Jim Beasley.
“The woman from Sumter County woman who contracted rabies actually had been bitten by a bat. We believe that bat had gotten in her home several months ago and then the virus traveled slowly and infected the patient,” says Beasley.
Beasley says tragically, rabies almost always ends in death–as there is no cure. He says there are only about one to three cases of rabies in the country a year.
Like the current case, Beasley says rabies takes some time to fully develop.
“The rabies virus, it’s important to understand, it travels very slowly through the body until it reaches the brain in the central nervous system and it produces some serious initial symptoms such as headaches, difficulty swallowing, seizures, anxiety, agitation and also some confusion,” says Beasley.
If you find a bat in your home:
“It’s important not to release it outside. If you can, first of all, don’t touch it with your bare hands, but try to trap it under a container, and then you can contact your DHEC County Environmental Health office to have that bat tested for rabies,” says Beasley.
Besides bats, other rabies-infested animals in South Carolina include raccoons, foxes, skunks and other wild animals.