Rabid Stray Cat Confirmed in York County and Rabid Skunk Confirmed in Pickens County; Four People and Four Pets Exposed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Oct. 20, 2023
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has confirmed two positive rabies cases in animals in two different counties:
- A stray cat found on Sept. 29, 2023, near Highway 557 and Rainbow Circle in Clover, S.C. tested positive for rabies on Oct. 18, 2023. One person was bitten and three more people were potentially exposed. All potentially exposed people have been referred to the Midlands DHEC Regional Medical Director for a rabies risk assessment to determine if rabies post exposure prophylaxis is warranted. Three cats were exposed. One recently vaccinated cat has been placed in quarantine as required in the Rabies Control Act. The two other unvaccinated stray cats were euthanized out of an abundance of caution.
- A skunk found near Powdersville Road and Birchwood Street in Easley, S.C. has tested positive for rabies. No people are known to have been exposed at this time. One dog was exposed and has been placed in quarantine as required in the Rabies Control Act.
The York County stray cat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on Oct. 17, 2023, and was confirmed to have rabies on Oct. 18, 2023. The Pickens County skunk was submitted to DHEC’s laboratory for testing on October 18, 2023, and tested positive on Oct. 19, 2023. Feral stray cats and wild animals are a significant source for rabies exposure. If pets in the area have received any unexplained injuries or have been seen interacting with feral stray cats or wildlife, please contact your veterinarian’s office.
If you believe you, someone you know or your pets have come in contact with this York County stray cat or this Pickens County skunk or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC's Midlands Public Health Rock Hill office at (803) 909-7096 or the Upstate Public Health Pickens office at (864) 372-3270 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).
“Keeping your pets up to date on their rabies vaccination is the easiest way to protect you and your family from this deadly virus,” said Terri McCollister, Rabies Program director. “Any mammal has the ability to carry and transmit the disease to people or pets. Therefore, give wild and stray animals plenty of space.”
In South Carolina, rabies is most often found in wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats, but pets are just as susceptible to the virus. If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it. Contact someone trained in handling animals, such as your local animal control officer, wildlife control officer or a 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.
The York County stray cat and the Pickens County skunk are the sixth animals to test positive for rabies in 2023 in each of their respective counties. There have been 70 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive cases a year. In 2022, five of the 83 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in York County and eight were in Pickens County.