A stray kitten living near Williams-Brice Stadium exposed a person to rabies, state health officials reported. And now they’re warning people to stay away from cats in the area.
The stray kitten, a Siamese flame point, was white with orange on its ears, paws, tail and face, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported. The kitten was found near Williams-Brice Stadium between Key Road and Bluff Road around the Cockabooses.
The kitten was taken to a DHEC laboratory for testing on Monday and was confirmed to have rabies the next day. The person exposed to rabies was referred to their healthcare provider, the agency said.
“Any persons who have been bitten, scratched, or potentially exposed to saliva from an animal, particularly a cat, in or around Williams-Brice Stadium in recent weeks should contact their healthcare provider,” DHEC said.
The kitten was part of a feral colony that lives in the area of the Gamecocks’ football stadium, according to DHEC. Columbia’s animal control department is helping DHEC investigate by identifying other feral cats in the area that may have rabies.
DHEC said pet owners in the area should keep their pets indoors. If a pet has an wound of unknown origin it should be taken to a veterinarian and DHEC’s office should be contacted.
“It is very important for you to seek medical attention if you have been exposed to a wild, stray or domestic animal,” Terri McCollister, DHEC’s rabies specialist, said. “The rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and can be transmitted through a bite, scratch, broken skin, and the mucous membranes of your eyes, nose or mouth.”
If bitten or otherwise harmed by an animal, the area should be cleaned immediately and medical treatment should be sought. Rabies can be stopped if treated right away. But left untreated, rabies is fatal.
DHEC can be contacted at (803) 896-0620 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday) or after hours and on holidays at (888) 847-0902 (Select Option 2).