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Florence County cat tests positive for rabies, two people exposed

November 30, 2018

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Two Florence County residents were exposed to rabies and have been referred to their health car providers after a stray cat tested positive for the disease.

“The potential exposures occurred when the victims were bitten by the stray cat near the City of Johnsonville. The stray cat was described as being a small sized, black and white domestic short hair. On Nov. 26, the cat was submitted to DHEC’s laboratory for testing and was confirmed to have rabies on Nov. 27,” according to a DHEC release.

This cat is the fourth animal in Florence County to test positive for rabies in 2018. There have been 93 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 110 positive cases a year. In 2017, one of the 63 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina was in Florence County.

“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.

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 or wildlife rehabilitator.

“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.

If you have reason to believe that you, your family members, or your pets came in contact with this stray cat or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC’s Environmental Affairs Florence office at (843) 661-4825 during normal business hours (M-F, 8:30-5:00).

If any part of your body may have come in contact with saliva or neural tissue, be sure to immediately wash the area with plenty of soap and water and seek medical attention. 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.

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