COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) - Four people have been referred to health care providers after they were possibly exposed to rabies by a kitten that tested positive for the disease.
According to the Department of Health and Environment Control (DHEC), the people were possibly exposed in Spartanburg County while handling the kitten.
DHEC said the kitten was taken to DHEC's lab for testing on June 29 and rabies was confirmed on July 2.
"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," David Vaughan, Director, DHEC Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement Division, said. "However, saliva or neural tissue contact with open wounds or areas such as the eyes, nose, or mouth could also potentially transmit rabies."
"To reduce the risk of getting rabies, always give wild and stray animals their space. 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," Vaughan said.
DHEC said in the release that keeping your pets up-to-date on rabies vaccination is one way to protect yourself, your family and your pets.
Anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to rabies -- through a bite, scratch, or contact with saliva or neural tissue -- should wash the affected area with soap and water and to seek medical attention.
Those exposed should also report the incident to your local DHEC Bureau of Environmental Health Services office.
According to the release, the kitten that tested positive for rabies is the second animal in Spartanburg County to test positive in 2018.
"There have been 41 confirmed cases of animal rabies statewide this year," according to the release. "In 2017, 3 of the 63 confirmed rabies cases in South Carolina were in Spartanburg County."
For more information, visit www.scdhec.gov/EAOffices, www.scdhec.gov/rabies or www.cdc.gov/rabies.