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January 27, 2017

Oconee County cat potentially exposes one person to rabies

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

On Jan. 22, the victim was bitten while handling a stray cat that appeared at their residence located in the Westminster area of Oconee County. The cat was later euthanized, submitted to DHEC's laboratory and confirmed to have rabies on Jan. 25.

"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. If you see an animal in need, contact your local animal control office.

"Rabies is transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the body of a healthy person or animal. Exposure can occur through a bite, scratch or contact with infected saliva to open wounds or mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose or mouth," 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.
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 first animal in Oconee County to test positive for rabies in 2017. There have been five confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. In 2016, three of the 94 rabies cases in South Carolina were in Oconee County.

Contact your local DHEC Environmental Health Services office/. For more information on rabies: visit CDC's rabies webpage can be found at:


DHEC Media Relations
(803) 898-7769