Rabid cat found near downtown Lexington, 3 people possibly exposed

Karamie Sullivan photo (file image).

The Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Thursday that three people have been referred to their health care providers after potentially being exposed to rabies by a stray cat that tested positive for the disease.

According to DHEC officials, the potential exposures occurred May 10 when the victims were attacked by a stray cat near downtown Lexington. The cat was described as a white domestic short haired with grey markings. The stray cat was submitted to DHEC’s laboratory for testing May 13, and confirmed to have rabies May 14.

“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 stressed the importance of always giving wild and stray animals their space to reduce the risk of getting rabies. “If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it and contact someone trained in handling animals, such as your local animal control officer or wildlife rehabilitator.”

If anyone believes they have come into contact with this cat or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call DHEC’s environmental affairs Columbia office at 803-896-0620 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Officials advise to 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.

This cat 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.

Categories: Lexington, Lexington County