PORTLAND, Mich. — The Ionia County Health Department says a bat recently tested positive for rabies.
The bat was found June 6 on East Grand River Avenue. The health department said that several people handled it with their bare hands and one of them was bitten.
All people who handled the bat are currently undergoing Rabies Prophylaxis treatment, which includes four injections of a vaccine over a two week period, according to a release from the health department.
Rabies is a deadly disease that is secreted in saliva and transmitted to people and animals by a bite from an infected animal. The disease attacks the nervous system, and once outward signs of it appear it is almost always fatal, according to the health department.
All cats, dogs and ferrets need to receive the rabies vaccine, and the health department says livestock and animals in petting zoos should also be vaccinated.
According to the health department, bats are assumed to have rabies until tests show otherwise. If you find a bat in your home, officials ask that you attempt to safely collect it using leather work gloves and a container such as a small box or coffee can. If the bat is already dead, officials say to store it in a refrigerator and contact the health department so it can be tested.
Read more from the health department about safely handling bats and other information about rabid animals here.