Ten People Exposed To Rabies By Cat

Occurred during "routine care"

Patrick Gentry
August 24, 2018 - 5:10 pm

The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today that ten people have been referred to their health care providers after being potentially exposed to rabies by a cat that tested positive for the disease.

The exposures occurred during routine care of a pet cat. The cat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on August 21 and was confirmed to have rabies on August 22.

"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 contact with open wounds or areas such as the eyes, nose, or mouth could also potentially transmit rabies," said David Vaughan, Director of DHEC's Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division.

"It is important to keep pets up to date on their rabies vaccination as this is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can protect yourself, your family, and your pets from this fatal disease," said Vaughan.

To also 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 or wildlife rehabilitator.

If you think you may have been exposed to an animal possibly infected with rabies through a bite, scratch, or contact with saliva or neural tissue, immediately wash the affected area with plenty of soap and water. Be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to your local DHEC Bureau of Environmental Health Services' (BEHS) office during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM). To report a bite or exposure on holidays and/or times outside of normal business hours, please call the DHEC after-hours service number (888) 847-0902.

The cat is the fifth animal in York County to test positive for rabies in 2018. There have been 63 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 110 positive cases a year. In 2017, 3 of the 63 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in York County.

Residents can contact their local Bureau of Environmental Health Services' office using DHEC's interactive map: http://www.scdhec.gov/EAOffices. For more information on rabies visit: www.scdhec.gov/rabies or www.cdc.gov/rabies/.  

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