Chester County child bitten by rabid cat; residents urged to avoid strays

A northern Chester County child was bitten on the finger by cat that tested positive for rabies, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced today. The child is under a doctor's care and receiving inoculations.

"Because rabies is fatal to humans and animals, anyone bitten, scratched or otherwise exposed to the saliva of a rabid animal must undergo immediate preventive measures to stop the virus from reaching the brain," DHEC said in a statement. "State law requires that all pets be vaccinated against rabies, and we strongly encourage residents to avoid contact with stray animals and make sure their own pets have been vaccinated to protect both the pets and their owners.

"Be wary of tame animals 'acting wild' and wild animals 'acting tame' and if you are bitten or scratched by a wild animal or domestic pet, immediately wash the wound with plenty of soap and water," she said. "DHEC advises the public to be sure to get immediate medical attention for any possible exposure to the saliva of a rabid animal and to be sure to report the incident to DHEC."

DHEC said this is the fourth confirmed rabid animal in Chester County in 2006.