feral cat in cage

Cola Daily file photo

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control confirmed Wednesday that a stray, white kitten with orange coloring on its ears, paws, tail and face (also known as a Siamese flame point) tested positive for rabies.

The kitten was found near Williams-Brice Stadium between Key Road and Bluff Road around the Cockabooses in Columbia. One person was exposed and has been referred to their healthcare provider.

The kitten was submitted to DHEC's laboratory for testing Monday and was confirmed to have rabies Tuesday.

"The rabies virus can be transmitted through exposure to saliva and neural tissue from an infected animal before the animal shows any signs of disease or illness," said Terri McCollister, rabies program team leader. "It is very important for you to seek medical attention if you have been exposed to a wild, stray, or domestic animal. The rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and can be transmitted through a bite, scratch, broken skin, and the mucous membranes of your eyes, nose, or mouth. Immediately wash any affected area with plenty of soap and water. Contact your local Environmental Affairs office for further guidance as rabies is preventable after exposure if post exposure treatment is provided in a timely manner. Rabies is fatal if left untreated."

Individuals who have been bitten, scratched or potentially exposed to saliva from an animal, particularly a cat, in or around Williams-Brice Stadium in recent weeks should contact their healthcare provider. The rabies virus can be transmitted through exposure to saliva and neural tissue from an infected animal before the animal shows any signs of disease or illness.

City of Columbia Animal Control is assisting in DHEC's investigation by working to identify additional feral/stray cats in the area that may have been exposed. The kitten was known to be part of a feral colony in the area. Stray and feral cats serve as a significant source for rabies exposure. If pets in the area have received any unexplained injuries or been seen interacting with feral cats in recent weeks, please contact a veterinarian’s office.

Report all animal bites, scratches and exposures to potentially rabid animals to DHEC.

Those who own a pet and reside in this area, are asked to keep their pets indoors. Known exposures are to be reported to DHEC at (803) 896-0620.

This kitten is the eighth animal in Richland County to test positive for rabies in 2021. There have been 68 cases of rabid animals statewide this year.

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