Michael F. Easley
Governor

The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina Carmen Hooker Odom
Secretary

North Carolina
Department of Health and Human Services

For Release: IMMEDIATE
Date: July 24, 2007

  Contact: Debbie Crane

Four States Investigating Possible Rabies Exposure at SC Softball Tournament

RALEIGH – Public health authorities in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia are investigating an incident in which players at a South Carolina softball tournament may have been exposed to a rabid kitten.

Public health officials are contacting girls who played in the South Atlantic Summer Showdown Tournament on July 14 in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. On July 14, a coach at the tournament found the gray kitten in a barrel style dumpster, which was located behind the dugout at the Boiling Springs Recreational Facility. The kitten was placed in a box and taken later that day to games at the North Spartanburg Recreational Facility. The coach took the kitten home to Buncombe County, North Carolina on July 14. It sickened and was put down on Sunday July 15. The cat tested positive for rabies at the North Carolina State Public Health Laboratory.

Experts cautioned that only people at those two venues on July 14 had any potential exposure to the kitten. They also stressed that just petting the kitten doesn’t mean that a person was exposed to rabies.

“Rabies is spread through the bite of an infected animal or through direct contact of animal saliva with open cuts in the skin, mouth or eyes,” said North Carolina State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Carl Williams. “Just petting the kitten doesn’t put you at risk.”

Public health authorities are working with tournament organizers to identify and contact people who may have had exposure to the animal. Girls and their families will be contacted and asked if they were bitten by the kitten or if the kitten’s saliva had contact with open skin cuts or with their eyes or mouths.

Public health authorities would also like to find the person who left the kitten in the dumpster at the Boiling Springs Recreational Facility, because they may also have been exposed to rabies. Anyone who knows anything about the disposal of the kitten in the dumpster should contact South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Region 2 Environmental Health Office at (864) 282-4144.

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Public Affairs Office
101 Blair Drive, Raleigh, NC 27603
(919)733-9190
FAX (919)733-7447

Debbie Crane
Director