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May 27, 2014

Cat exposes person to rabies in Williamsburg County

COLUMBIA, S.C. - One person has been recommended to undergo post-exposure treatment after being exposed to rabies in the Greeleyville community of Williamsburg County by a pet cat that tested positive for the disease, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

"State law requires pet owners to have their pets regularly vaccinated against rabies," said Sandra Craig of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "It is extremely important to the health of your pet and you to ensure vaccination status is up-to-date.

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," she said. "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 as in this case, domestic pets can contract rabies as well."

"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 124 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2013 in South Carolina. There have been 46 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. This animal is the second to test positive in 2014 from Williamsburg County. There were none in that county in 2013.

For more information about rabies, see DHEC's webpage at, or contact your local DHEC BEHS office at The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's rabies webpage can be found at:

For media inquiries:
Jim Beasley - (803) 898-7769
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