Stray cat bites Florence County woman, tests positive for rabies

A woman in Florence County was bitten by a stray cat that later tested positive for rabies, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Spokesman Jim Beasley says the agency doesn't discuss specifics about the case, but anytime a person is exposed to rabies, medical treatment is strongly recommended.

DHEC says this incident is a good reminder of the importance of pet owners following state law, which requires pets to be regularly vaccinated against the disease.

About 275 South Carolinians are advised to undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year because of exposure to a rabid or suspected rabid animal.

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

"Avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild," said Sue Ferguson of DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health.

"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," she said. "Then be sure to get medical attention and report the incident to DHEC."

While this is the second confirmed rabid animal of the year in Florence County, only one rabid animal was confirmed there last year.

There were 107 confirmed cases of animal rabies during 2011 in South Carolina. There have been 67 confirmed cases in animals statewide this year. Three of that total have been cats.

For more DHEC information about rabies, click here.

You can also visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's site.