Peak season for rabies in Michigan - WNEM TV 5

Peak season for rabies in Michigan

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MICHIGAN, (WNEM) -

Don’t go foaming at the mouth, but health experts say it’s peak season for rabies.

The Michigan departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Health and Human Services and Natural Resources are urging Michiganders to protect their families, pets and livestock from rabies.

Rabies is a viral disease transferred by the bite of an infected animal. Once symptoms begin, there is no treatment for the illness and can be fatal to humans.

Experts say there are several wild animals that serve as rabies carriers, including bats and skunks. Bats are the species most frequently found with rabies in Michigan.

“If you discover a bat in your home, carefully confine the bat and get in touch with your local health department to determine if you could have been exposed to rabies,” said Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS chief medical executive. "Save any bat for testing if there is even the slightest question of exposure, especially if the bat was found in a sleeping area." 

More than 20 animals in Michigan have tested positive for rabies this year, including animals in Genesee, Oakland and Saginaw counties. 

Anyone bitten by an animal should seek immediate medical attention.

“It is never a good idea to handle wild animals,” said Dr. Dan O’Brien, acting DNR state wildlife veterinarian. “It’s also important to teach children never to touch wild animals, no matter how cute or tame they seem.

If pet or livestock owners believe their animals have the disease, contact your veterinarian.

“Rabies can be prevented by vaccinating dogs, cats, ferrets, horses and select livestock,” said Dr. James Averill, MDARD state veterinarian. “It’s crucial animal owners work with their veterinarian to ensure their animals are protected from rabies."

For more information about rabies in Michigan including an up-to-date map, click here

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