Oconee County Cat Potentially Exposes One Person to Rabies
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Nov. 19, 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 potential exposure occurred on Nov. 13 when the victim was bitten by the stray cat near the City of Westminster. The stray cat was medium sized and had short gray fur with white stripes. On Nov. 15, the cat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing and was confirmed to have rabies on Nov. 16.
"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.
"It is 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," said Vaughan.
If you have reason to believe that you, your family members, or your pets came in contact with this stray cat or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Environmental Affairs Anderson office at (864) 260-5585 during normal business hours (M-F, 8:30-5:00).
If any part of your body may have come into contact with saliva or neural tissue, be sure to immediately wash the area 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 Oconee County to test positive for rabies in 2018. There have been 90 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 110 positive cases a year. In 2017, five of the 63 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Oconee County.
Residents can contact their local Bureau of Environmental Health Services' office via this website: http://www.scdhec.gov/EAOffices. For more information on rabies visit: www.scdhec.gov/rabies or www.cdc.gov/rabies.