COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – The Department of Health and Environmental Control reported that 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.
The potential exposures occurred between June 17 and July 1 when the victims were exposed to the cat during routine care in Ridgeland. The news release stated that the offending animal was described as a medium-sized, gray domestic short-hair cat.
The cat was submitted to DHEC’s laboratory for testing on July 1 and was confirmed to have rabies on July 2, according to officials.
“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 David Vaughan, Director of DHEC’s Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division.
“To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals their space. 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,” said Vaughan.
If you have reason to believe that you, your family members, or your pets have come into contact with this cat, or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC’s Environmental Affairs Beaufort office at (843) 846-1030 during normal business hours. Be sure to immediately wash any part of your body that may have come into contact with saliva or neural tissue with plenty of soap and water and seek medical attention. 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.