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      Cat found in Williamsburg County exposes four people to rabies

      Four adults have been recommended for post-exposure treatment after being exposed to rabies by a cat that tested positive for the disease, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

      The cat was found in the Hemingway.

      "To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," said Sue Ferguson of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services.

      "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. Wild animals carry the disease most often, but domestic pets can contract rabies as well."

      Ferguson said state law requires pet owners to have their pets regularly vaccinated against the disease.

      "If you think you have been exposed to the rabies virus through a bite, scratch or the saliva of a possibly infected animal, immediately wash the affected area with plenty of soap and water," Ferguson said. "Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC."

      There were 123 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2013 in South Carolina. There have been 2 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. This animal is the first to test positive in 2014 from Williamsburg County.