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DHEC: 4 people in Rock Hill exposed to rabies by infected bat

Jonathan McFadden
jmcfadden@heraldonline.com

ROCK HILL Four people in Rock Hill are receiving treatment after they were exposed to rabies by a bat, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The exposure happened somewhere in Rock Hill, but state officials have not said exactly where the incident happened. After the exposure, the bat was captured, euthanized and examined to determine whether it had rabies, said Jim Beasley, DHEC spokesman.

The victims were exposed last Saturday, Beasley said. Lab results confirmed on Tuesday, he said, that the bat had rabies.

The bat, officials say, is the ninth animal in York County to test positive for rabies this year. There were 12 reported last year.

There were 124 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in South Carolina last year. So far this year, there have been 75 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year.

Sandra Craig, with the department's environmental health services bureau, said in the release that about 275 people in the state must receive preventative treatment for rabies each year. If someone thinks they have been exposed to rabies, they should wash the affected area with plenty of soap and water, seek medical treatment and report the incident to DHEC, she said.

The four people who were exposed have been referred to a health care provider for preventative treatment. The bat, officials said, tested positive for the disease, which can be transmitted by animals through a bite, scratch or saliva. Domestic pets are able to contract rabies, as well, the release states.

The victims were treated at Piedmont Medical Center, said Amy Faulkenberry, hospital spokeswoman. She could not release more details about them.

When patients are admitted to the hospital for possible rabies treatment, they are administered an anti-viral and an antibiotic vaccination in the emergency room to stave off possible infection, she said. From there, they are able to go home but are placed on a treatment protocol requiring dosage boosts three, five, seven and 14 days after the exposure.

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