Rabid Stray Cat Confirmed in Marlboro County; Six People and Six Pets Exposed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Feb. 16, 2023
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that a stray long haired gray cat found near Salem Road and Jackson Road in Bennettsville, S.C., has tested positive for rabies. Six people were exposed and have been referred to their healthcare providers. Six other stray cats were exposed. This is an ongoing investigation.
The stray long haired gray cat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on February 13, 2023, and was confirmed to have rabies on February 14, 2023.
“It is very important for you to seek medical attention if you have been exposed to a wild, stray, or domestic animal. 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 the affected area with plenty of soap and water,” said Terri McCollister, Rabies Program Team Leader. “Contact your local Environmental Affairs office for further guidance.”
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 long haired gray cat or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Environmental Affairs Florence office at (843) 661-4825 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 Marlboro County to test positive for rabies in 2023. There have been 11 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 Marlboro County.