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April 9, 2018

Chesterfield County cat potentially exposes one person to rabies

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.

On April 3, 2018, a stray cat attacked an individual, who was subsequently left with scratches and a puncture wound. The incident occurred on the outskirts of Cheraw. The stray cat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory on April 4 and was confirmed to have rabies on April 5. The cat was described as having long, gray hair with large yellow eyes.

"Rabies is transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the body of a person or animal," said David Vaughan, Director, DHEC Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division. "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."

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals their space. If you see an animal in need, avoid handling it and contact someone trained in handling the animal, such as your local animal control officer or wildlife rehabilitator," said Vaughan.

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.

If you think you may have been exposed to the rabies virus through a bite, scratch, or the saliva of a possibly infected animal, immediately wash the affected area with plenty of soap and water. Be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to your local DHEC Bureau of Environmental Health Services (BEHS) office during normal business hours (Monday through Friday 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM). To report a bite or exposure on holidays and/or times outside of normal business hours, please call the DHEC After-Hours Service number (888) 847-0902.

The stray cat is the first animal in Chesterfield County to test positive for rabies in 2018. There have been 16 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. In 2017, one of the 63 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina was in Chesterfield County.

Residents can contact their local Bureau of Environmental Health Services office using DHEC's interactive map: For more information on rabies visit: or


DHEC Media Relations
(803) 898-7769