Three people in Camden have been exposed to rabies by a stray cat and six people in Ware Shoals have been exposed to rabies by an unvaccinated pet dog in a pair of recent cases that drive home the danger of even common domesticated animals.
The Camden case involves incidents on Monday and Tuesday, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. Once the stray cat was captured, it was confirmed rabid by lab tests on Wednesday.
The six people in Ware Shoals were exposed to the unvaccinated dog on Monday, and the dog tested positive for the disease on Wednesday.
The people infected have started preventive treatment for the virus, the agency said.
“Rabies is a threat to humans, pets and wild animals,” said Sandra Craig of DHEC’s Bureau of Environmental Health Services. “All pet owners should have their dogs, cats and ferrets vaccinated regularly as required by state law. It is extremely important to the health of your pet, your family, and you that pet vaccinations are kept up-to-date.”
Each year, about 275 people in the state are recommended to get the preventive treatment after being bitten by a suspected rabid animal. There were 124 confirmed rabies cases in animals last year, and there have been 71 so far this year, DHEC said.
Pets found to be positive for rabies must either be euthanized or quarantined. The virus can be fatal once it reaches the brain.
Often, pets are exposed to rabies when they spend time outdoors and come into contact with rabid wild animals, and that tends to happen more often in the summer months.
“If you are bitten or scratched by a potentially rabid animal or get the animal’s saliva in a wound, wash the area immediately with plenty of soap and water,” Craig said. “Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC.”