December 29, 2014
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Two people have been referred to a health care provider for consultation after being exposed to rabies in the Kershaw area of Lancaster County by a cat that tested positive for the disease, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today.
The exposure occurred on Dec. 18, 2014, and the cat tested positive for rabies on Dec. 23, 2014.
The cat was an outside pet which had not been vaccinated. When the cat's owner noticed the cat was acting sick, the cat was taken to a veterinarian's office. Two individuals were exposed to the animal's saliva.
"Rabies is a threat to humans, pets, and wild animals," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services (BEHS). "All pet owners should have their dogs, cats, and ferrets vaccinated regularly as required by state law. It is extremely important to the health of your pet, your family, and you that pet vaccinations are kept up-to-date."
"Unvaccinated pets that are exposed to the rabies virus must be quarantined or euthanized," she added. "Rabies is fatal once the virus reaches the brain, yet the heartache of losing a pet to this disease can be avoided. DHEC-sponsored rabies clinics are offered across the state by local veterinarians each spring, and low-cost vaccines are available every day at local veterinary clinics."
"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," Craig said. "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 contract the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well."
"If you think you have been exposed to the rabies virus through a bite, scratch, or the saliva of a possibly infected animal, immediately wash the affected area with plenty of soap and water," Craig said. "Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC."
During 2013, there were 124 confirmed cases of animal rabies in South Carolina. There have been 137 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. This animal is the seventh animal to test positive in 2014 from Lancaster County. There were six animals that tested positive 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 BEHS office, at http://www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/DHECLocations/. CDC's rabies webpages can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.
Public Information Officer