LEXINGTON, S.C. — It sounds a bit like the beginning of a joke.
Racoon enters local medical center and tests positive for rabies, but that's just what happened in Lexington.
According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that a raccoon entered the Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia, South Carolina.
The raccoon tested positive for rabies.
One person was exposed and has been referred to their healthcare provider.
The raccoon was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on December 18 and was confirmed to have rabies on December 19.
"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals plenty of space," said Terri McCollister, Rabies Program Team Leader. "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."
RELATED: Rabid bobcat found in Kershaw County
If you believe that you or someone you know has had contact with or been potentially exposed to this or another suspect animal, please reach out to your local Environmental Affairs office. An exposure is defined as direct contact (such as through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth) with saliva or brain/nervous system tissue from an infected animal.
It's important to keep pets up to date on their rabies vaccination, which is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect against the disease. If your pet is found with wounds of unknown origin, please consider that your pet could have been exposed to rabies and contact the Columbia office at (803) 896-0620 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday). To report a bite or exposure on holidays or times outside of normal business hours, please call the DHEC after-hours service number at (888) 847-0902.
This raccoon is the 14th animal in Lexington County to test positive for rabies in 2020.
There have been 167 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2011, South Carolina has averaged approximately 130 positive cases a year.
In 2019, 17 of the 148 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Lexington County.