AIKEN, S.C. (WCBD) – A person in Aiken, S.C. was potentially exposed to rabies after being bitten by a stray cat, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).
On December 18, the victim was bitten while on his/her property, located northwest of New Ellenton.
On December 19, the cat was taken to DHEC’s lab and tested positive for rabies. The cat is the ninth animal in Aiken County to test positive for rabies this year, according to DHEC.
David Vaughan, Director of DHEC’s Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division explained that “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.”
Vaughan also said that one of the best ways to protect yourself, your pets, and your family from rabies is to keep your pets up to date on their rabies vaccinations.
If you encounter a stray animal, Vaughan said to “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.”
If you believe that you may have come in contact with a rabid animal, DHEC first recommends washing “any part of your body that may have come into contact with saliva or neural tissue with plenty of soap and water.” You should then seek medical attention.
All bites/exposures should be reported to DHEC. To report a bite or exposure on holidays and/or times outside of normal business hours, DHEC asks that you call their after-hours service number at (888) 847-0902.
Contact information for local Bureau of Environmental Health Services offices is available at www.scdhec.gov/EAoffices.