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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 15, 2014

Cat found in Williamsburg County exposes four adults to rabies

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Four adults have been recommended for post-exposure treatment after being exposed to rabies by a cat that tested positive for the disease after being found in the Hemingway area of Williamsburg County, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," said Sue Ferguson of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "About 275 South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures coming from bites or scratches by a rabid or suspected rabid animal. Wild animals carry the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well."

Ferguson said state law requires pet owners to have their pets regularly vaccinated against the disease.

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

There were 123 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2013 in South Carolina. There have been 2 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. This animal is the first to test positive in 2014 from Williamsburg County.

For more information about rabies, see DHEC’s webpage at http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies, or contact your local DHEC BEHS office at http://www.scdhec.gov/environment/behs/regions.htm. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s rabies webpage can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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For media inquiries:
Lindsey Evans - (803) 898-1127
Email – evansl2@dhec.sc.gov