Richland County Residents Advised To Vaccinate Pets
Two people in Columbia who were exposed to rabies by a stray cat are under a doctor's care and receiving inoculations to prevent rabies after the cat tested positive for the disease, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced today.
According to Sue Ferguson of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health, a stray cat and kitten were captured in the Eau Claire area of Columbia and taken to a veterinarian's office for observation. The cat died and was sent to DHEC's Bureau of Laboratories, where it was confirmed to have rabies. The kitten remains in quarantine.
"Because rabies is fatal to humans and animals, anyone bitten, scratched or otherwise exposed to the saliva of a rabid animal must undergo immediate preventive measures to stop the virus from reaching the brain," said Ferguson. "State law requires that all pets be vaccinated against rabies, and we strongly encourage residents to avoid contact with stray animals and make sure their own pets have been vaccinated to protect both the pets and their owners.
"Be wary of tame animals 'acting wild' and wild animals 'acting tame' and if you are bitten or scratched by a wild animal or domestic pet, immediately wash the wound with plenty of soap and water," she said. "Get immediate medical attention for any possible exposure to the saliva of a rabid animal and to be sure to report the incident to DHEC."
Ferguson said that about 400 South Carolinians have to undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year after being bitten by a rabid or suspected rabid animal. This is the thirteenth confirmed rabid animal in Richland County in 2006. In 2005, there were seven animals confirmed cases of rabies in the county and 220 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in South Carolina. So far this year, there have been 179 confirmed cases in animals in the state.