FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 29, 2021
MDHHS, MDARD, MDNR offer best practices to minimize risk of rabies after four bats test positive in Clinton, Ingham, Kent, and Midland counties
LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan departments of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and Natural Resources (MDNR) are urging Michiganders to adopt practices to protect their families and animals from rabies. Four bats have tested positive for rabies in Clinton, Ingham, Kent, and Midland counties in 2021.
Spring is typically when rabies cases start appearing. Generally, bats and skunks are a primary source of the disease. Michigan local health departments experience an increase in calls from citizens about bat encounters between May and September when bats are most active. In 2020, there were 56 cases of rabies in Michigan animals including 52 rabid bats and four 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. “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.”
Rabies is a viral disease of mammals and is transmitted through the bite or scratch of an infected animal. Exposures can take place in a variety of settings, including when bats are found in the bedroom of a sleeping person or a child comes into contact with an infected animal. It is important to seek medical care to determine the need for post-exposure treatment.
Rabies is fatal to humans if proper treatment is not received before symptoms begin. Preventive treatment is given to people who are exposed to a potentially rabid animal. Treatment is not necessary for people if the animal can be tested and tests negative for rabies.
To protect your family and your animals from rabies, there are some very important tips to follow.
More information about rabies and a map of rabies positive animals in Michigan can be found at Michigan.gov/rabies.