Mid-Michigan Health Department reminds residents of rabies risk when encountering animals

Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 11:59 AM EDT
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CLINTON COUNTY, Mich. (WILX) - Mid-Michigan residents are reminded of the dangers of animal bites—whether they are wild, stray or domestic—as animals may be infected with rabies.

The Mid-Michigan District Health Department (MMDHD) said rabies, deadly but preventable viral disease, can spread to people and pets through an infected or rabid animal bite or scratch.

MMDHD said it is important not to interact with wild or stray animals.

“If you encounter a stray dog, don’t run away, make any sudden movements, or look them in the eye. Quick movements can trigger their ‘prey drive.’” said Tom Clark, Director of Gratiot County Animal Control.

Residents may also encounter wild baby animals, such as deer, foxes, or raccoons. It is important to leave the animals alone.

It is required by law that all animal bites be reported to local Animal Control and your local Health Department. When a bite occurs, make sure to capture the following information:

  • Address of where the bite occurred
  • Name and phone number of the owner of the biting animal
  • Rabies vaccination status of the biting animal
  • A good description of the biting animal

If a domestic animal bites a person, it doesn’t necessarily mean the animal will be put down, nor will the owner face punishment. Local Health Departments and Animal Control Officers need specific information surrounding the incident to provide education and assist in determining possible rabies exposure. Domestic biting animals need to be quarantined for ten days but may not need to be removed from their owner unless surrendered or dangerous.

In Michigan, rabies most commonly occurs in bats. Therefore, it is important to prevent bats from entering living quarters or spaces in homes, churches, schools, or other settings. In situations where a bat has been in close contact with people, safely confine the bat and contact your local Health Department to determine if it should be tested for rabies.

For further information, visit Michigan.gov/Rabies. To speak to your local MMDHD Communicable Disease (CD) Nurse, their contact information is listed below. For after hours, weekend, and holiday emergencies, use the After-Hours Emergency Pager.

  • Clinton County: Becky Stoddard, (989) 227-3111
  • Gratiot County: Lisa Mikesell, (989) 875-1019
  • Montcalm County: Jennifer Johnson, (989) 831-3615
  • After-Hours Emergency Pager: (989) 276-0260

To reach Animal Control, you can call:

  • Clinton County: (989) 224-5116
  • Gratiot County: (989) 875-2221
  • Montcalm County: (989) 831-7302

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