News Releases

News Releases

Oconee County Stray Cat Potentially Exposes Two People to Rabies


January 17, 2019


COLUMBIA, S.C. - The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today that two people have been referred to their health care providers after being potentially exposed to rabies by a stray cat that tested positive for the disease.

The potential exposures occurred around Jan.12 when the victims were bitten and scratched after taking in the stray. The rabid stray cat was initially found southeast of the City of Seneca and was described as a small, gray tabby. On Jan.14, the cat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing and was confirmed to have rabies on Jan.15.

"Rabies is most commonly transmitted via a bite which allows saliva from an infected animal to be introduced into the body of a person or another animal. Transmission is also possible when open wounds or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, etc.) have contact with infected saliva or neural tissue," said David Vaughan, Director of DHEC's Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division. "If any part of your body may have come in contact with saliva or neural tissue from an animal, immediately wash the exposed area with plenty of soap and water and seek medical attention."

"To reduce the risk of contracting rabies, be sure to give wild and stray animals their space. If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it and contact 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.

If you have reason to believe that you, your family members, or your pets came in contact with this cat or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Environmental Affairs Walhalla office at (864) 638-4185 during normal business hours (M-F, 8:30-5:00) or after-hours at (888) 847-0902.

This cat is the first animal in Oconee County to test positive for rabies in 2019. There have been six confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. In 2018, five of the 100 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Oconee County. Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 108 positive cases per year.

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


Media Relations News Release Rabies Stray & Wild Animals Oconee