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For Immediate Release
July 23, 2014

Stray cat exposes person to rabies  in Greenville County

COLUMBIA, S.C. - One person has been referred to a health care provider for preventive treatment after being exposed to rabies in Greenville by a stray cat that tested positive for the disease, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "About 275 South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures coming from bites or scratches by a rabid or suspected rabid animal. Wild animals transmit the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well.

"If you are bitten or scratched by a potentially rabid animal or get the animal's saliva in a wound, wash the area immediately with plenty of soap and water," Craig said. "Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC.

"State law requires pet owners to have their pets regularly vaccinated against rabies. It is extremely important to the health of your pet and you to ensure vaccination status is up-to-date," she said.

There were 124 confirmed cases of rabies in animals during 2013 in South Carolina. There have been 68 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. This animal is the fourth to test positive in 2014 from Greenville County. There were five in that county in 2013.

For more information about rabies, see DHEC's webpage at http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies, or contact your local DHEC environmental health services office at http://www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/DHECLocations/. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's rabies webpage can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies

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For media inquiries:
Jim Beasley - (803) 898-7769
Email - beaslejc@dhec.sc.gov

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