Rabid Kitten Confirmed in Dorchester County; Four People Potentially Exposed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 23, 2021
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that a stray kitten found near West 6th North Street and North Cedar Street in Summerville, S.C., has tested positive for rabies. Four people were potentially exposed and have been referred to their healthcare providers. This is an ongoing investigation. A feral cat colony was observed in the area and potentially exposed.
The kitten was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on November 19, 2021, and was confirmed to have rabies on November 22, 2021.
“Rabies is usually transmitted through a bite or scratch which allows saliva from an infected animal to be introduced into the body of a person or another animal. However, infected saliva or neural tissue contact with open wounds or areas such as the eyes, nose, or mouth could also potentially transmit rabies,” said Terri McCollister, Rabies Program Team Leader. “To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals their space. Stray and feral cats serve as a significant source for rabies exposure. 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 a wildlife rehabilitator. Please report all animal bites, scratches, and exposures to potentially rabid animals to DHEC.”
If you believe that you, someone you know, or your pets have come in contact with this stray kitten or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Environmental Affairs Charleston office at (843) 953-0150 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 stray kitten is the first animal in Dorchester County to test positive for rabies in 2021. There have been 90 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive cases a year. In 2020, two of the 168 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Dorchester County.