Officials offer safety tips after Michigan bats test positive for rabies

Four bats have tested positive for rabies in Michigan this year.

The bats were found in Clinton, Ingham, Kent, and Midland counties.

Officials said bats and skunks are the primary animals that get rabies in Michigan. Last year 52 bats and four skunks tested positive for rabies. It is transmitted through bites and scratches.

People tend to encounter bats the most between May and September, when the bats are the most active. 

The Michigan departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture and Rural Development, and Natural Resources offered tips for staying safe:

  • People should leave wild and stray animals alone, including baby animals. Animals could be carrying rabies and not appear sick. Do not try to nurse sick wildlife or stray animals to health. Report ill wildlife to the Department of Natural Resources. Contact your local animal control agency with concerns about stray animals.
  • If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, promptly seek medical care and notify your local health department about the bite.
  • If a person may have been asleep in the same room as a bat, or a young child or person with an impairment may have been alone with a bat, safely confine or collect the bat if possible and contact your local health department to determine if it should be tested for rabies. If the bat escapes or is released, contact your local health department to discuss the situation and determine if treatment of people potentially exposed to the bat is necessary.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating pets and livestock. Even indoor pets that never go outside can encounter a bat that gets inside the home. Rabies is fatal in animals, and there is no treatment. Therefore, vaccination is important to protect your pets and livestock from rabies.
  • If your animal is bitten, scratched or may have been unsupervised with a wild or stray animal, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Even if your animal is currently vaccinated against rabies, additional actions may need to be taken to prevent the spread of the virus. If possible, safely confine or capture the wild or stray animal without touching the animal. Then, contact your local animal control agency or a veterinarian, as the animal may need to be tested for rabies.
  • Keep your pet on a leash and under your control as this can reduce the chances of having contact with wild and stray animals.