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Rabid Cat Confirmed in Charleston County; Three People Exposed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 29, 2020

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed that a gray and white kitten found near Sharon Avenue and Southgate Drive in Charleston, SC has tested positive for rabies. Three people were exposed and have been referred to their health care providers.

The kitten was submitted to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services State Public Health Laboratory for testing on June 23 and was confirmed to have rabies on June 24.

“To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals plenty of space," said David Vaughan, Director of DHEC's Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division. "If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it. Contact someone trained in handling animals, such as your local animal control officer or wildlife rehabilitator. The possibility of exposure to rabies can occur anywhere, anytime. If you believe that you or someone you know has had contact with or been potentially exposed to this or another suspect animal, please reach out to your local Environmental Affairs office. An exposure is defined as a bite, a scratch, or contact with saliva or body fluids from an infected, or possibly infected, animal."

If your pet is found with wounds of unknown origin, please consider that your pet could have been exposed to rabies and contact DHEC's Environmental Affairs Charleston office at (843) 953-0150 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday). To report a bite or exposure on holidays or times outside of normal business hours, please call the DHEC after-hours service number at (888) 847-0902.

It is important to keep pets up to date on their rabies vaccination, as this is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect against the disease. This kitten is the twelfth animal in Charleston County to test positive for rabies in 2020. There have been 63 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2011, South Carolina has averaged approximately 130 positive cases a year. In 2019, 19 of the 148 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Charleston County.

Contact information for local Environmental Affairs Offices is available at www.scdhec.gov/EAoffices. For more information on rabies visit www.scdhec.gov/rabies or www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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