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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 4, 2017

Greenville County cat potentially exposes one person to rabies

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today that one person has been referred to their health care provider after being potentially exposed to rabies by a stray cat that tested positive for the disease.

On Sept 25, two stray cats were observed fighting before one turned on the victim, who was subsequently scratched. The incident occurred between Simpsonville and Ware Place. One of the stray cats was submitted to DHEC’s laboratory on Sept 29 and confirmed to have rabies on Oct 2. The other stray cat, described as having a reddish-black color, ran off and was not available for testing.

"Rabies is transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the body of a person or animal," said Sandra Craig, Director, DHEC Food Protection and Rabies Prevention Division. "This usually occurs through a bite; however, saliva contact with open wounds or areas such as the eyes, nose, or mouth could also potentially transmit rabies."

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals their space. If you see an animal in need, avoid handling it and contact someone trained in handling the animal, such as your local animal control office or wildlife rehabilitation facility," said Craig.

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.

If a person or pet comes into contact with an animal and there is a possibility of rabies transmission, the incident should be reported to the local DHEC Bureau of Environmental Health Services (BEHS) office during normal business hours (Monday through Friday 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM). To report a bite or exposure on holidays and/or times outside of normal business hours, please call the DHEC After-Hours Service number (888) 847-0902.

The stray cat is the first animal in Greenville County to test positive for rabies in 2017. There have been 53 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. In 2016, four of the 94 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Greenville County.

Residents can contact their local Bureau of Environmental Health Services office using DHEC's interactive map: www.scdhec.gov/EAOffices. For more information on rabies visit: www.scdhec.gov/rabies or www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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DHEC Media Relations
media@dhec.sc.gov
(803) 898-7769