Rabid Cat Confirmed in Florence County; Four People and Eight Pets Exposed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 25, 2023
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that an unvaccinated pet cat found near Redwing Drive and North Ham Road in Timmonsville, S.C., has tested positive for rabies.
Four people were exposed and have been referred to their health care providers. One dog was exposed and will be quarantined as required in the South Carolina Rabies Control Act. Seven unvaccinated cats were also exposed and will be euthanized out of an abundance of caution at the owner’s discretion.
The cat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on May 23, 2023, and was confirmed to have rabies on May 24, 2023. If you believe you, someone you know or your pets have come in contact with this cat, or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Public Health Florence office at (843) 661-4835 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday) or after hours and on holidays at (888) 847-0902 (Select Option 2).
“To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals plenty of space,” said Terri McCollister, Rabies Program Team Lead. “If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it and contact someone trained in handling animals, such as your local animal control officer, wildlife control operator or wildlife rehabilitator.”
An exposure is defined as direct contact (such as through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth) with saliva or brain/nervous system tissue from an infected animal.
Stray and outdoor pet cats serve as a significant source for rabies exposure. If pets in the area have received any unexplained injuries or have been seen interacting with feral cats in recent weeks, please contact your veterinarian’s office. It is important to keep pets up to date on their rabies vaccination, one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect against the disease.
This cat is the first animal in Florence County to test positive for rabies in 2023. There have been 23 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive cases a year. In 2022, one of the 83 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina was in Florence County.