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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 18, 2015

Cat exposes six people to rabies in Spartanburg County

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Six people have been referred to their health care providers for consultation after being potentially exposed to rabies in the Woodruff area of Spartanburg County by a cat that tested positive for the disease, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

The exposures occurred on Sept. 13 & 14, 2015. The family cat was not current on its rabies vaccination. It was found to have a wound of unknown origin and was not immediately taken to a veterinarian. Five family members and one other individual were bitten or otherwise potentially exposed. The cat was euthanized and tested positive for rabies on Sept. 16, 2015.

"Although wild animals contract rabies most often, domestic pets can contract the disease as well," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services (BEHS). "To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild. 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."

"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. "Be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC."

Pets, particularly those that go or live outdoors, have the potential to come in contact with wild animals. Keeping your pet up-to-date on its rabies vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your family from possible exposure to this fatal disease. If a pet returns home with unexplainable, visible wounds, immediately seek veterinary treatment and inform your local DHEC Environmental Quality Control office.

"Time is of the essence," Craig said, "because a family member or a beloved pet might be saved if treated properly and in a timely manner. Informing DHEC enables us to take the proper steps to help reduce further exposure and to encourage victims and pet owners to take the steps necessary to protect both people and pets."

During 2014, there were 139 confirmed cases of animal rabies in South Carolina. There have been 97 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. This animal is the fourth to test positive in 2015 from Spartanburg County. There were six that tested positive in that county in 2014.

Vaccination is the best way to help protect your pet and your family from this disease. For additional information on rabies, visit 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.

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Robert Yanity
Public Information Officer
YANITYRM@dhec.sc.gov
(803) 898-1617