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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 2, 2012

Spartanburg County residents advised to vaccinate pets against rabies, avoid stray animals

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A stray cat discovered in Chesnee has tested positive for rabies, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

"Avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," said Sue Ferguson of DHEC’s Bureau of Environmental Health. "About 275 South Carolinians are advised to 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. Stray animals should be avoided as they can carry the disease.

"Therefore, to protect both the pets and their owners, residents should make sure their pets are regularly vaccinated against the disease. State law requires that all pets be vaccinated against rabies.

"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."

While this is the second confirmed rabid animal of the year in Spartanburg County, five rabid animals were confirmed there last year. There were 107 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2011 in South Carolina. There have been 43 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year.

For more information about rabies, see DHEC's webpage at: http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies or contact your local DHEC environmental health office. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's webpage about rabies can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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For media inquiries:
Adam Myrick – (803) 898-3884
Email – myrickar@dhec.sc.gov
MNR0596