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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mar. 5, 2014

Stray cat exposes person to rabies in Aiken County

COLUMBIA, S.C. - One person has been recommended to receive post-exposure treatment after being exposed to a rabid stray cat in Montmorenci area of Aiken 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 Sandra Craig 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."

Craig said state law requires pet owners to have their pets regularly vaccinated against the disease. "Pets can be vaccinated as early as 12 weeks old," she said.

"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," Craig 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 19 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. This animal is the first to test positive in 2014 from Aiken County.

For more information about rabies, see DHEC's webpage at /Health/DiseasesandConditions/InfectiousDiseases/InsectAnimalBorne/Rabies/, or contact your local DHEC BEHS office athttp://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:
Jim Beasley - (803) 898-7769
Email - beaslejc@dhec.sc.gov

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