DHEC: Rabid cat, bat exposure confirmed in Charleston Co.

The cat and the bat were both submitted to DHEC’s laboratory for testing on Wednesday.
The cat and the bat were both submitted to DHEC’s laboratory for testing on Wednesday.(Mary Green)
Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 6:38 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says two people, one pet and a feral cat colony were exposed to rabies in Charleston County.

A gray feral cat, who is part of a larger feral cat colony, found near Apple Street and Hickman Street in North Charleston tested positive for rabies. One person was exposed to the cat and has been referred to their healthcare provider.

It is unknown how many of the cats in the feral colony were exposed. DHEC is investigating.

Meanwhile, a bat found near Rifle Range Road and Scotts Creek Circle in Mount Pleasant also tested positive for rabies. One person was exposed and has been referred to their healthcare provider. A dog was also exposed and will be quarantined as required in the Rabies Control Act, DHEC said.

The cat and the bat were both submitted to DHEC’s laboratory for testing on Wednesday.

“To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals plenty of space,” Rabies Program Team Leader Terri McCollister 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, wildlife control operator, or wildlife rehabilitator.”

Below is more information from DHEC on what counts as rabies exposure and other recommendations:

Stray and feral cats serve as a significant source for rabies exposure. An exposure is defined as direct contact (such as through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth) with saliva or brain/nervous system tissue from an infected animal. If pets in the area have received any unexplained injuries or have been seen interacting with feral cats in recent weeks, please contact your veterinarian’s office.

Additionally, never release a bat that has potentially exposed a person or pet. Any bat that could have had potential contact with people, pets, or livestock should be safely trapped in a sealed container and not touched.

Because of this, it’s recommended to assume that a person or pet has potentially been bitten when:

•    They wake up to find a bat in a room or tent;

•    A bat is found where children, pets, or persons with impaired mental capacity (intoxicated or mentally disabled) have been left unattended; or

•    They have been in direct contact with a bat.

If you believe that you, someone you know, or your pets have come in contact with either of these rabies-positive animals or other suspect animals, please call DHEC’s Environmental Affairs Charleston office at (843) 953-0150.

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