Increase In Bats Testing Positive For Rabies In Michigan

July 07, 2018 - 12:15 pm

LANSING (WWJ) - More bats appear to be infected with rabies in Michigan this summer. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is seeing an uptick in bats testing positive for rabies. As of June 28, state officials have identified rabies in 22 bats and two skunks. Last year at this time, officials had identified nine bats with rabies.

Bats and skunks have tested positive for rabies in 15 counties, including Oakland, Ingham, Wayne and Washtenaw.

Rabies is a viral disease of mammals that is transmitted through the bite or scratch of an infected animal, and is fatal to humans. Bats and skunks are the most common carriers of rabies in Michigan. In 2017, there were 38 cases of rabies in animals in Michigan, including 35 bats, two skunks and one cat. 

From May to September, bats are more active, searching for food and rearing their young. While bats are beneficial to our ecosystem, they are also one of the species of animal that is a natural host for the rabies virus. 

Protect your family and pets from rabies by taking these simple steps:

  • Avoid contact with wild animals. Do not keep wild animals as pets and do not try to rehabilitate wild animals yourself. Wild animals can carry rabies without looking sick.   
  • 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. Even cats that live indoors and never go outside 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. 

More information about rabies and a map of rabies positive animals in Michigan can be found at Michigan.gov/rabies.