Rabid Feral Kitten Confirmed in Richland County; One Person and Feral Cat Colony Exposed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Sept. 15, 2021
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that a stray, white kitten with orange coloring on its ears, paws, tail, and face (also known as a Siamese flame point) found near Williams-Brice Stadium between Key Road and Bluff Road around the Cockabooses in Columbia, S.C., has tested positive for rabies. One person was exposed and has been referred to their healthcare provider.
The kitten was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on September 13, 2021, and was confirmed to have rabies on September 14, 2021.
Any persons who have been bitten, scratched, or potentially exposed to saliva from an animal, particularly a cat, in or around Williams-Brice Stadium in recent weeks should contact their healthcare provider. The rabies virus can be transmitted through exposure to saliva and neural tissue from an infected animal before the animal shows any signs of disease or illness.
City of Columbia Animal Control is assisting with our investigation by working to identify additional feral/stray cats in the area that may have been exposed. The kitten was known to be part of a feral colony in the area. Stray and feral cats serve as a significant source for rabies exposure. If pets in the area have received any unexplained injuries or been seen interacting with feral cats in recent weeks, please contact your veterinarian’s office.
Report all animal bites, scratches, and exposures to potentially rabid animals to DHEC.
"The rabies virus can be transmitted through exposure to saliva and neural tissue from an infected animal before the animal shows any signs of disease or illness. It is very important for you to seek medical attention if you have been exposed to a wild, stray, or domestic animal,” said Terri McCollister, Rabies Program Team Leader. “The rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and can be transmitted through a bite, scratch, broken skin, and the mucous membranes of your eyes, nose, or mouth. Immediately wash any affected area with plenty of soap and water. Contact your local Environmental Affairs office for further guidance as rabies is preventable after exposure if post exposure treatment is provided in a timely manner. Rabies is fatal if left untreated."
If you own a pet and reside in this area, please keep your pet indoors. If your pet has wounds with unknown origin, please seek veterinary care and contact our office. Similarly, if you believe that you, someone you know, or your pets have come into contact with this kitten 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.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday) or after hours and on holidays at (888) 847-0902 (Select Option 2).
It is 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. This kitten is the eigth animal in Richland County to test positive for rabies in 2021. There have been 68 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive cases a year. In 2020, eight of the 168 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Richland County.