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News Releases

Charleston County Cat Potentially Exposes One Person to Rabies

Aug. 30, 2019


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 cat that tested positive for the disease.

The potential exposure occurred Aug. 24 when the victim was attacked by a black cat on their property located in Johns Island, S.C. The cat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing Aug. 27 and was confirmed to have rabies Aug. 28.

"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," said David Vaughan, Director of DHEC's Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division. "However, saliva or neural tissue contact with open wounds or areas such as the eyes, nose, or mouth could also potentially transmit rabies."

It's also 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 this 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 cat or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Environmental Affairs Charleston office at (843) 953-0150 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 normal business hours, please call the DHEC after-hours service number at (888) 847-0902.

This cat is the 10th animal in Charleston County to test positive for rabies in 2019. There have been 98 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 108 positive cases a year. In 2018, three of the 100 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Charleston County.

Contact information for local Bureau of Environmental Health Services offices is available at at more information on rabies visit or



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