Human Rabies: South Carolina Reports First Case of Human Rabies in 50 Years

A middle-aged South Carolina woman has the first diagnosed case of human rabies in the state in 50 years, state health officials said Friday.

The woman, whose identity remains undisclosed due to the federal medical privacy laws, is believed to have been bitten by a bat that entered her home a few months ago.

“There are only about one to three cases of human rabies each year in this country,” Dr. Eric Brenner, epidemiologist with the state Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Bureau of Disease Control (DHEC), said in a statement, adding, “Tragically, rabies almost always ends in death.”

According to Wikipedia, Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute inflammation of the brain if it is not dealt with immediately.

Transmitted through saliva when someone is bitten, the disease travels slowly, taking weeks to reach the brain and nervous system. Once there, the symptoms such as partial paralysis, seizures, and hallucinations begin and the infection is almost always fatal within two to ten days.

DHEC staff are now investigating to make sure no one else was exposed.. like family, friends, co-workers and healthcare providers who’ve come in contact with her since the bite.

“It is important to note that person-to-person transmission of rabies has never been documented, with the exception of special circumstances in medical settings,” Dr. Brenner said. “Exposure to the blood of an infected person is not considered a reason to be treated for rabies.”

According to Reuters, the last human rabies cases in South Carolina were in December 1959, when an elderly Florence County man was bitten by a dog, and in March 1958 when an elderly Clarendon County woman was bitten by a fox.

Image: Wikipedia