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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 13, 2012

Florence County residents advised to avoid wild animals, vaccinate pets

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A Florence County cat 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.

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,” 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 Florence County, only one rabid animal was confirmed there last year. There were 107 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2011 in South Carolina. There have been 67 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. Three of that total have been cats.

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:
Jim Beasley – (803) 898-7769
Email – beaslejc@dhec.sc.gov