Michigan residents are urged to adopt practices to protect families from pets. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is seeing a rise in the number of bats testing positive for rabies.
By the end of June, the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories had identified rabies in 22 bats and two skunks. Last year around the same timeframe, MDHHS had identified nine bats with rabies. In 2017, 28 cases of rabies were found in Michigan animals, including 35 bats, two skunks and one cat.
An increase in reports to local health departments usually comes in the warmer months between May and September. Bats are more active during this time, and while they are beneficial to Michigan’s ecosystem, they are also a natural host for the rabies virus, which is transmitted through the bite or scratch of an infected animal.
MDHHS offers this list to protect your family and pets from rabies:
- Avoid contact with wild animals. Do not keep wild animals as pets and do not try to rehabilitate wild animals yourself.
- If a wild animal appears sick, report it to the Department of Natural Resources online or at 517-336-5030.
- If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, seek immediate medical attention and alert the local health department.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
More information about rabies and a map of rabies positive animals in Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/rabies.