News Releases

News Releases

One Cat and One Fox Test Positive for Rabies in Two Counties: Newberry and Lexington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Aug. 6, 2019

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today that two people in Newberry County and one person in Lexington County have been referred to their health care providers after coming into contact with animals that tested positive for rabies.

  • Newberry County: Two people have been referred to their health care providers after being potentially exposed to rabies by their pet cat that tested positive for the disease. The potential exposures occurred Aug. 1 when the victims were bitten by the cat in Prosperity. The cat was described as a large, gray domestic short-haired tabby. The cat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing Aug. 2 and was confirmed to have rabies Aug. 5.
     
  • Lexington County: One person has been referred to their health care provider after coming into contact with a fox that tested positive for rabies. The potential exposure occurred Aug. 2 when the victim was attacked by a fox on their property in the town of Lexington. The fox was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing Aug. 2 and was confirmed to have rabies Aug. 5.

"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," 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, family members, or pets have come into contact with either of these animals, or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Environmental Affairs Columbia office at (803) 896-0620 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.

There have been 87 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 108 positive cases a year. This cat is the third animal in Newberry County to test positive for rabies in 2019. In 2018, two of the 100 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Newberry County. This fox is the 13th animal in Lexington County to test positive for rabies in 2019. In 2018, seven of the 100 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Lexington County.

Contact information for local Bureau of Environmental Health Services offices is available at at www.scdhec.gov/EAoffices. For more information on rabies visit www.scdhec.gov/rabies orwww.cdc.gov/rabies.

Tags

Media Relations Rabid Animal Rabies Rabies Control and Animal Bites