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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 18, 2016

Greenwood County cat potentially exposes four people to rabies

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Four people have started post-exposure treatment after being potentially exposed to rabies by a pet cat that tested positive for the disease, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today.

On August 11, 2016, the cat began to show abnormal behavior. The victims were subsequently bitten or exposed to saliva while trying to provide care for the animal. The cat died on August 12 and was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing the same day. It was confirmed to have rabies on August 15.

Pets, particularly those that stay outdoors, have the potential to come in contact with wild or stray animals. If unexplained, visible wounds are found on your pet, immediately seek veterinary treatment and inform your local DHEC Environmental Health Services office.

In addition, keeping your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccination is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can protect yourself, your family and your pets from this fatal disease.

"Rabies is a deadly virus that is transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the body, usually through a bite or contact with an open wound or areas such as the mouth or eyes," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services.

Hundreds of South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, due to exposure to a rabid or suspected rabid animal.

The cat is the fifth animal in Greenwood County to test positive for rabies in 2016. There have been 67 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. In 2015, seven of the 130 rabies cases in South Carolina were in Greenwood County.

Contact your local DHEC Environmental Health Services office at: http://www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/DHECLocations/.

For more information on rabies: visit http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies.

CDC's rabies webpage can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies. 

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DHEC Media Relations
media@dhec.sc.gov
803.898.1127