Eaton County (WLNS)- The Barry-Eaton District Health Department has confirmed the first case of rabies for Eaton County in 2019.
“It’s something we expect and we get every year,” Jennifer Casarez, a nurse, and Communicable Disease Coordinator at the Barry-Eaton District Health Department said.
“It’s not uncommon during the summer season to have an increased number of rabid bats,” Casarez said.
The health department can’t say exactly where the brown bat was found, but say it was discovered by someone in Grand Ledge.
“They had contacted us. They brought the bat to us and we sent it to the Michigan Department of Health and Human services bureau of lab for testing,” Casarez said.
Officials say if you come into contact with a bat in your home you can call a professional to trap it or catch it yourself.
Once the bat lands, wearing gloves, approach slowly and place the box or can over it. Slide the piece of cardboard under the container, trapping the bat inside and securely tape the cardboard to the container.
If you wish to keep the bat alive, punch holes (no larger than a ¼ inch in diameter) in the container for the bat to breathe. It is important not to damage the bat as this can interfere with the lab testing.
Contact your local health department to discuss whether the bat needs to be tested for rabies and to receive instructions on what steps to take next. and finally, seek medical attention for any bite or scratch.
Bats and skunks are the most common carriers of rabies in Michigan. In 2018, there were 79 cases of rabid animals in the state, including 77 bats and two skunks.
“We’re always wanting very good information about the contact that the individual has had with the possibly infected animal,” Casarez said.
In this case, there was no human exposure and though rabies in humans is rare, Casarez says it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
More information about bats and rabies can be found at https://bit.ly/2Xh8LHE