A Greenville County resident is undergoing treatment to prevent rabies after being exposed to a stray cat confirmed to have the disease, health officials said Wednesday.
The incident occurred on July 18 when the victim was scratched by a stray cat, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. The cat was caught by animal control and tested positive for rabies on July 21.
Rabies is a virus that attacks the central nervous system and is almost always fatal without treatment.
DHEC advises anyone who is bitten, scratched or otherwise exposed to the saliva of a suspected rabid animal to wash the wound and get medical attention immediately and report the incident to their health department.
“About 275 South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures coming from bites or scratches by a rabid or suspected rabid animal,” said Sandra Craig of DHEC’s Bureau of Environmental Health Services.
“Wild animals transmit the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well.”
State law requires that pets be vaccinated against rabies, she said.
There were 124 confirmed cases of rabies in animals last year in South Carolina compared with 68 so far this year.
The cat is the fourth animal to test positive this year in Greenville County, compared with five last year.