Officials with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) are warning residents in Jasper County, S.C. about a rabid cat that may have already infected nearly a half-dozen people.
According to a news release from the agency, five people have been referred to their health care providers after being “potentially exposed to rabies by a cat that tested positive for the disease.”
SCDHEC says the potential exposures took place between June 17 and July 1 when the victims “were exposed to the cat during routine care” in Ridgeland, S.C., a town of just over 4,000 located on the border between Jasper and Beaufort counties in the Palmetto Lowcountry.
The offending feline – a medium-sized, gray domestic short-hair cat – was submitted to SCDHEC’s laboratory for testing on July 1 and was confirmed to have rabies the following day.
According to SCDHEC, the rabid cat found in Jasper County is the 75th animal to test positive for rabies in the state this year. Over the last five years, South Carolina has averaged approximately 108 positive rabies cases a year.
This was the second case involving Jasper County this year. Last year, there were no confirmed rabies cases in the county.
Anyone in Jasper 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 Beaufort at 843-846-1030 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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