Officials with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) issued a warning on Wednesday about a rabid cat in York County, S.C.
According to a news release from the agency, one county resident was referred to their health care provider after being “potentially exposed to rabies by a stray cat that tested positive for the disease.”
SCDHEC officials say the potential exposure took place on June 28, 2019 when the victim was “attacked by a stray cat on their property.”
The incident took place in Sharon, S.C., a town of nearly 600 people located in rural southwestern York County. The cat was submitted to a SCDHEC laboratory for testing on July 1 and was diagnosed the following day with rabies.
“Rabies is usually transmitted through a bite which allows saliva from an infected animal to be introduced into the body of a person or another animal, however, saliva or neural tissue contact with open wounds or areas such as the eyes, nose, or mouth could also potentially transmit rabies,” said SCDHEC official David Vaughan.
As he did following a rabies scare in Greenwood County, S.C. last month, Vaughan indicated the potential exposure should serve as a reminder to “keep pets up to date on their rabies vaccination, as this is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect against the fatal disease.”
He also warned against approaching wild animals or strays.
“To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals their space,” Vaughan said. “If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it and contact someone trained in handling animals, such as your local animal control officer or wildlife rehabilitator.”
According to SCDHEC, the rabid cat found in York County is the 74th animal to test positive for rabies this year. Over the last five years, South Carolina has averaged approximately 108 positive rabies cases a year.
This was the first case involving York County this year. Last year, there were nine confirmed rabies cases in the county.
Anyone in York County who believes that they, their family members or their pets may have come into contact with this cat or another animal that potentially has rabies are urged to call SCDHEC’s environmental affairs office in Rock Hill at 864-909-7377 between 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. EDT. In the meantime, anyone who believes they may have been bitten by a potentially rabid animal is urged to wash any part of their body that may have come into contact with saliva or neural tissue with soap and water, and seek medical attention.
Those wishing to report a bite or possible rabies exposure on holidays or times outside of normal business hours are urged to call the SCDHEC after-hours service number at 888-847-0902.
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