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July 28, 2017

Newberry County cat potentially exposes one person to rabies

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported today, one person has been referred to their healthcare provider for consultation after being potentially exposed to rabies by a stray cat that tested positive for the disease.

On July 24, the stray cat was observed exhibiting unusual vocalizations. When approached, the cat became aggressive and scratched the victim. The incident occurred in an area southeast of the Town of Silverstreet in Newberry County. The cat was submitted to DHEC's laboratory on July 25 and confirmed to have rabies the next day.

"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals their space," said Sandra Craig, Director, DHEC Food Protection and Rabies Prevention Division. "If you see an animal in need, avoid handling it and contact your local animal control office or wildlife rehabilitation facility."

"Rabies is transmitted when saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal is introduced into the body of a person or animal," said Craig. "This usually occurs through a bite; however, saliva contact with open wounds or areas such as the eyes, nose, or mouth could also potentially transmit rabies."

If a person or pet comes into contact with an unknown, stray, or wild animal and there is a possibility of rabies transmission, the incident should be reported to the local DHEC Bureau of Environmental Health Services (BEHS) office during normal business hours (Monday through Friday 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM). To report a bite or exposure on holidays and/or times outside of normal business hours, please call the DHEC After-Hours Service number (888) 847-0902.

The stray cat is the second animal in Newberry County to test positive for rabies in 2017. There have been 36 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year. In 2016, six of the 94 rabies cases in South Carolina were in Newberry County.

Residents can contact their local Bureau of Environmental Health Services office using DHEC's interactive map, For more information on rabies visit: or


DHEC Media Relations
(803) 898-7769