The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is warning that more bats are testing positive for rabies.
According to the MDHHS, there have been 22 bats and two skunks testing positive for the disease. At this time last year, only nine bats tested positive.
In 2017, there were 38 total cases of rabies in animals in Michigan, 35 of which were in bats. The other three were two skunks and one cat.
The state also receives an increase in calls about bat encounters from citizens between May and September. They are urging residents to take certain action to protect their family and pets as rabies is deadly to humans.
People or bets are usually exposed to rabies when they are bitten by an infected animal. Other situations that could present a risk include when people are sleeping and there's a bat in the room, or there's a bat in a room with an unattended child or impaired adult.
The MDHHS gives these tips to people:
- 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. A directory of local public health departments is available at Malph.org
- 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. More information on how to collect a bat safely can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website
- 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.
For more information, visit Michigan.gov/rabies