COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today that one person has been referred to their health care provider after being potentially exposed to rabies by a stray cat that tested positive for the disease.
The potential exposure occurred June 28 when the victim was attacked by a stray cat on their property in Sharon, S.C. The offending animal was described as a black and white domestic short-haired cat. The cat was submitted to DHEC’s laboratory for testing on July 1 and was confirmed to have rabies on July 2.
“Rabies is usually transmitted through a bite which allows saliva from an infected animal to be introduced into the body of a person or another animal, however, saliva or neural tissue contact with open wounds or areas such as the eyes, nose, or mouth could also potentially transmit rabies,” said David Vaughan, Director of DHEC’s Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division.
It’s important to keep pets up to date on their rabies vaccination, as this is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect against the fatal disease.
“To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals their space,” Vaughan said. “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.”
If you have reason to believe that you, family members or pets have come into contact with this fox or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC’s Environmental Affairs Rock Hill Office at 864-909-7377 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday). Be sure to immediately wash any part of your body that may have come into contact with saliva or neural tissue with plenty of soap and water, and seek medical attention. To report a bite or exposure on holidays or times outside of normal business hours, please call the DHEC after-hours service number 888-847-0902.
This stray cat is the first animal in York County to test positive for rabies in 2019. There have been 74 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 108 positive cases a year. In 2018, nine of the 100 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in York County.
Contact information for local Bureau of Environmental Health Services’ offices is available at www.scdhec.gov/EAOffices. For more information on rabies visit www.scdhec.gov/rabies
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