The Department of Health and Environmental Control said Thursday that three people have been referred for medical checks after they were potentially exposed to rabies. They were referred after a stray cat caught near downtown Lexington tested positive for rabies.
According to DHEC officials, the potential exposure occurred May 10 when the victims were attacked by a stray cat near Lexington. The cat was described as a white domestic short haired with grey markings. It was examined at DHEC’s lab May 13, and confirmed to have rabies a day later.
“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,” said David Vaughan, Director of DHEC’s Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division.
Vaughan said people should avoid touching unknown animals, except for trained wildlife rehabilitators.
If anyone believes they have come into contact with this cat or another animal that potentially has rabies, call DHEC’s environmental affairs Columbia office at 803-896-0620 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Also, 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.
The cat caught near Lexington is the ninth animal in Lexington County to test positive for rabies in 2019. There have been 52 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2013, South Carolina has averaged approximately 108 positive cases a year. In 2018, seven of the 100 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Lexington County.