Michigan officials worried about rabies risk after 4 bats test positive

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The MDHHS, MDARD and MDNR announced on Thursday that four bats have tested positive for rabies.

The bats were from Clinton, Ingham, Kent and Midland counties.

Rabies is a virus that affects mammals. It’s transmitted through bites or scratches from an infected animal.

It is vital that anyone who is exposed to rabies or believes they are exposed to rabies seek medical attention immediately. Rabies is fatal to humans if proper treatment is not received.

In response, the three agencies released guidelines on how to avoid contracting rabiges.

According to the press release, rabies cases generally start appearing in spring, with bats and skunks being the primary carriers of the disease.

Bat encounters typically increase between May and September.

Last year, 56 cases of rabies in animals were reported, with 52 being bats and four being rabid skunks.

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 in the release.

“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.”

The best way for humans to avoid rabies is to leave stray animals alone, including baby animals. Many animals carrying rabies do not appear sick. If you see ill wildlife, do not interact with it. Contact the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or contact your local animal control.

If a human is bitten or scratched by an animal, seek medical attention immediately and contact your local health department about the incident.

If a person has slept in the same room as a bat, or has been in the same room as a bat, confine the bat safely if possible and contact your local health department to determine if the bat should be tested for rabies.

If the bat escapes, contact the health department and determine if treatment/testing is necessary.

For animals, vaccinate your pets. Even indoor-only animals can come in contact with bats so it’s important to vaccinate them against rabies.

If your animal is injured by wildlife or comes in contact with a stray animal, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Even if your pet is vaccinated, there are still necessary steps to curb the spread of the virus.

Always keep your pets on a leash.

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