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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 9, 2010

Marlboro County residents alerted about danger of rabies; advised to vaccinate pets

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A man, woman and three children from Blenheim are under the care of a physician after being exposed to a cat that has tested positive for rabies, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

"The cat bit the man and the woman," said Sue Ferguson of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health. "The three children had contact with the cat."

According to Ferguson, anyone bitten, scratched or otherwise exposed to the saliva of a rabid animal must undergo immediate measures to stop the virus from reaching the brain. Once the rabies virus reaches the brain, the disease is fatal to humans and animals, so the individuals are receiving preventive inoculations.

"Avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," Ferguson said. "About 400 South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures from being bitten or scratched by a rabid or suspected rabid animal. Wild animals carry the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well.

"Therefore, to protect both the pets and their owners, all residents should make sure their pets are regularly vaccinated against the disease. State law requires that all pets be vaccinated against rabies. Failure to do so can result in a misdemeanor charge.

"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," she said. "Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC."

This is the first confirmed rabid animal in Marlboro County in 2010. Last year, no rabid animals were confirmed in the county. In 2009, there were 152 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in South Carolina. So far this year, there have been 71 confirmed cases in animals in the state.

For more information about rabies and upcoming rabies clinics around the state, see DHEC's webpage at: http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies or contact DHEC's Marlboro County Environmental Health office at (843) 479-6801. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web page about rabies can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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For more information:
Adam Myrick - (803) 898-3884
E-mail - myrickar@dhec.sc.gov
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