Greenville County Cat Potentially Exposes Five People to Rabies
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Oct. 31, 2019
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today that five people have been referred to their health care providers after being potentially exposed to rabies by a cat that tested positive for the disease.
The potential exposures occurred Oct. 25 when the victims came into contact with an unvaccinated cat in Greer, S.C. The cat was described as a domestic short-hair with black and white fur. The cat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing Oct. 28 and was confirmed to have rabies Oct. 29.
"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."
Keeping pets up to date on their rabies vaccination 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 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 Greenville office at 864-372-3273 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 and/or times outside of normal business hours, please call the DHEC after-hours service number 888-847-0902.
This cat is the fourth animal in Greenville County to test positive for rabies in 2019. There have been 127 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 108 positive cases a year. In 2018, only 1 of the 100 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina was in Greenville 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 or www.cdc.gov/rabies.