Rabid Stray Cat Confirmed in Berkeley County; One Person and One or More Stray Cats Potentially Exposed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 26, 2021
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that a grey and white stray cat found near St. Michaels Place and Lou Elec Lane in Moncks Corner, SC has tested positive for rabies. One person was exposed and has been referred to their healthcare provider. DHEC staff have requested assistance from the local animal control team as there are other cats in the area that were part of the same group of animals.
The grey and white stray cat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on February 24th and was confirmed to have rabies on February 25th.
Exposure is defined as a bite, scratch, or contact with saliva or body fluids from an infected animal. "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 from an infected animal that comes into 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. 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."
If your pet appears to have been bitten or scratched by this stray cat, or is found with wounds of unknown origin, please consider that your pet may have been exposed to rabies and contact 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 cat is the first animal in Berkeley County to test positive for rabies in 2021. There have been 11 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 Berkeley County.
Contact information for local Environmental Affairs Offices is available at www.scdhec.gov/EAoffices. For more information on rabies visit www.scdhec.gov/rabies or www.cdc.gov/rabies.