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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 22, 2016

Clarendon County kitten potentially exposes nine people to rabies

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

The kitten was found in Taw Caw Creek Park in Summerton, S.C. at the beginning of August and initially became ill on Sept. 14. On Sept. 16 the kitten's illness worsened, and it began to act aggressively. The kitten potentially exposed the victims to rabies through bite wounds, scratches and saliva contact. The kitten was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing on Sept. 19, and was confirmed to have rabies on Sept. 20.

Additionally, several other dogs and cats were potentially exposed. Most of the animals will undergo a 45-day quarantine as they are current on their rabies vaccinations. A few animals are not current on their rabies vaccinations, so a longer quarantine will be required.

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend giving wild and stray animals their space," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services (BEHS). "If you see an animal in need, contact your local animal control office.

"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," Craig said.

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

In addition to being cautious around wild or stray animals, 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.

The kitten is the third animal in Clarendon County to test positive for rabies in 2016. There have been 76 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. In 2015, two of the 130 rabies cases in South Carolina were in Clarendon County.

For more 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 webpage can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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DHEC Media Relations
media@dhec.sc.gov
803.898.1127