GENERIC: Bat

A bat has tested positive for rabies in Bay County.

The animal is one of seven animals that have tested positive in the state this year.

“Rabies is a viral disease of mammals that is transmitted through the bite or scratch of an infected animal. Bats and skunks are the most common carriers of rabies in Michigan,” the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said.

As of May 22, the MDHHS identified rabies in five bats and two skunks out of 928 animals tested, the department said.

The other positive animals were in Alpena County, Oakland County, Macomb County, and Jackson County.

In 2018, there were 79 cases of rabies in animals in the state – including 77 bats and two skunks.

“People or pets usually get exposed to rabies when they are bitten by an infected animal. Other situations that may present a risk are when a bat is found in a room with people who have been asleep, or a bat is found with an unattended child or an impaired adult who cannot be sure they didn’t have contact with the bat. In these cases, it is important to collect the bat for rabies testing,” the department said.

Rabies is fatal to humans, but post-exposure treatment is given to people who are exposed to a potentially rabid animal.

You can protect your family and pets by taking these steps:

  • Avoid contact with wildlife. Do not keep wild animals as pets and do not try to rehabilitate wildlife yourself. Wild animals can carry rabies without looking sick.
  • If a wild animal appears sick, please report it to the Department of Natural Resources online at Michigan.gov/eyesinthefield or at 517-336-5030.
  • If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, seek immediate medical attention and alert the local health department. A directory of local public health departments is available at Malph.org.
  • If you find a bat in your home, safely confine or collect the bat if possible and contact your local health department to determine if it should be tested for rabies. More information on how to collect a bat safely can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.
  • If you are unable or would prefer not to confine or collect a bat yourself, you may consider hiring a bat/wildlife removal service.
  • Protect your pets by getting them vaccinated against rabies. Even cats that live indoors and never go outside need to be vaccinated, as they can encounter a bat that gets inside the home.
  • If your animal is bitten or scratched by a wild animal or if you believe they have had unsupervised contact with wildlife, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Even if your pet is currently vaccinated against rabies, additional actions may need to be taken to prevent them from becoming infected. If possible, safely confine or capture the wild animal without touching it and contact your local animal control officer or veterinarian, as the animal may need to be tested for rabies.

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