Person potentially exposed to rabies by Oconee County cat

Updated: Jan. 19, 2020 at 11:40 AM EST
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OCONEE COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - The Department of Health and Environmental Control is reporting that one person has potentially been exposed to rabies after a pet cat tested positive for the disease.

The victim was scratched by the animal on January 15th. On January 16th the cat, described as a grey, white, and black domestic short hair, was taken to DHEC’s laboratory for testing. They confirmed the animal had rabies on January 17th.

“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,” Director of DHEC’s Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division David Vaughan said.

Officials say the best way to protect your pets from contracting the disease is to keep them up to date on their rabies vaccinations.

This cat is the first animal in Oconee County to test positive for rabies in 2020. So far, there have been nine positive cases statewide. Since 2013, South Carolina averages around 130 positive cases a year. In 2019, 10 of the 148 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Oconee County.

If you believe that you, family members or pets have come into contact with this cat or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC’s Environmental Affairs Anderson Office at 1-864-260-5585 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 or times outside of normal business hours, please call the DHEC after-hours service number at 1-888-847-0902.

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