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Oconee County Cat Potentially Exposes One Person to Rabies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Jan. 17, 2020
 

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 pet cat that tested positive for the disease.

The potential exposure occurred Jan. 15 when the victim was scratched by the cat in Oconee County. The cat was described as a grey, white, and black domestic short hair and was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing Jan 16. Rabies was confirmed Jan 17.

"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

It's 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 the 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 Anderson Office at 864-260-5585 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 of normal business hours, please call the DHEC after-hours service number at 888-847-0902.

This cat is the first animal in Oconee County to test positive for rabies in 2020. There have been nine positive cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 130 positive cases a year. In 2019, 10 of the 148  confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Oconee 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.

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