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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14, 2017

Florence County cat potentially exposes one person to rabies

COLUMBIA, S.C. - One person has been referred to their healthcare provider for consultation after being potentially exposed to rabies by a stray cat that tested positive for the disease, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today.

On March 7, the victim was attacked on their property by a stray cat. The incident occurred in an area north of the Florence Regional Airport in Florence County. The cat was placed under quarantine, and passed away on March 9. The cat was then submitted to DHEC's laboratory and confirmed to have rabies on March 10.

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend giving wild and stray animals their space," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "If you see an animal in need, contact your local animal control office."

"Rabies is transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the body of a healthy person or animal. This usually occurs through a bite, however, saliva contact with open wounds or areas such as the eyes, nose or mouth, could also potentially transmit rabies," said Craig.

Keeping your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccination is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can protect yourself, your family and your pets from this fatal disease.
Hundreds of South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year due to exposure to a rabid or suspected rabid animal.

The stray cat is the first animal in Florence County to test positive for rabies in 2017. There have been seven confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. In 2016, one of the 94 rabies cases in South Carolina was in Florence County.

Contact your local DHEC Environmental Health Services office using DHEC's interactive map. For more information on rabies: visit www.scdhec.gov/rabies. CDC's rabies webpage can be found at: www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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DHEC Media Relations
media@dhec.sc.gov
(803) 898-7769