Darlington County Residents Alerted About Rabies

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A Darlington County child, from the Kellytown community, who was exposed to rabies by a cat is under the care of a physician after the cat tested positive for rabies, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

“The child was scratched by the cat while she was playing with it,” said Sue Ferguson of DHEC’s Bureau of Environmental Health.

“About 400 South Carolinians undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures from being bitten or scratched by a rabid or suspected rabid animal,” Ferguson said. “Anyone bitten, scratched or otherwise exposed to the saliva of a rabid animal must undergo immediate measures to stop the virus because, once the rabies virus reaches the brain, the disease is fatal to humans and animals.

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“Avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild,” she said. “Wild animals carry the disease most often but, as in this case, domestic pets can also contract rabies.

“Therefore, to protect both the pets, their owners and other members of the community, we strongly encourage every pet owner to make sure their cats, dogs and ferrets are regularly vaccinated against the disease. State law requires that all pets be vaccinated against rabies.

“If you think you have been exposed to the rabies virus through a bite, scratch or the saliva of a possibly infected animal, immediately wash the affected area with plenty of soap and water,” Ferguson said. “Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC.”

This is the third confirmed rabid animal in Darlington County in 2009 and the second rabid cat within the last month. Last year, there was one rabid animal, a raccoon, confirmed in the county. In 2008, there were 166 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in South Carolina. So far this year, there have been 43 confirmed cases in animals in the state.

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