FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 25, 2018
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 Colleton County exposure occurred on July 20 off of I-95, Exit 53 (Walterboro), near the Shell gas station and Castillo's Pizzeria 2. The cat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on July 23 and was confirmed to have rabies on July 24.
The cat is described as being a medium-sized, black domestic short hair who displayed aggressive behavior. If you have reason to believe that you, your family members, or your pets have come into contact with this stray cat, or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Environmental Affairs' Beaufort office at (843) 846-1030 during normal business hours (M-F 8:30-5:00).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.
"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.
"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals their space. 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," said Vaughan.
It is also important to keep pets up to date on their rabies vaccination as this is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can protect yourself, your family, and your pets from this fatal disease.
This cat is the first animal in Colleton County to test positive for rabies in 2018. There have been 52 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 110 positive cases a year. In 2017, none of the 63 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Colleton County
Residents can contact their local Bureau of Environmental Health Services office using DHEC's interactive map: http://www.scdhec.gov/EAOffices. For more information on rabies visit: www.scdhec.gov/rabies or www.cdc.gov/rabies.