LANSING, Mich. — Michigan officials are sharing tips to protect families and pets from rabies after bats in four counties tested positive for the disease.
Four bats have tested positive for rabies in Clinton, Ingham, Kent and Midland counties so far this year, according to the Michigan departments of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and Natural Resources (MDNR).
MDHSS says 56 cases of rabies were reported in Michigan animals last year. Those cases included 52 rabid bats and four rabid skunks. Bats and skunks are usually the primary source of rabies.
Rabies is deadly to humans if proper treatment isn’t received before symptoms start. The viral disease is transmitted through the bite or scratch of an infected animal.
State officials are urging Michiganders to adopt practices to keep their families safe.
Tips to protect people:
- Leave wild and stray animals alone. MDHSS says animals could be carrying rabies and not appear sick. You can report ill wildlife to the DNR.
- Seek medical care immediately if you are scratched or bitten by an animal. You should also notify your local health department about the bite.
- If there’s a possibility a person slept in the same room as a bat, MDHSS says to confine or collect the bat and contact your local health department to determine if it should be tested for rabies. You should also follow these steps if a young child or person with an impairment may have been alone with a bat.
Tips to protect animals:
- Discuss vaccinating pets and livestock with your veterinarian. MDHSS says rabies is deadly in animals and there is no treatment.
- If you think your animal has been bitten or scratched by a bat, MDHSS recommends contacting your veterinarian immediately. Additional action may be necessary to prevent the spread of viral disease, even if the animal has been vaccinated.
- Keep your pet on a leash to reduce the chances of having contact with wild or stray animals.
“With warm weather coming, it is possible for Michiganders to unintentionally come into contact with a potentially infected animal,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “If you come into physical contact with a wild animal or are bitten or scratched, it is important that you seek medical care quickly to keep a treatable situation from becoming potentially life-threatening.”
You can find more information about rabies and a map of rabies-positive animals in Michigan online.