Rabid Bat Found in Muskegon County, Residents Reminded of Risk

Muskegon, MI – A bat found in a Muskegon County home has tested positive for rabies. This is the first bat to test positive in Muskegon County in 2018. Two bats tested positive for rabies in Muskegon County in 2017.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan is experiencing an uptick in bats testing positive for rabies this summer. (See July 2, 2018 MDHHS News Release.)

Rabies is a deadly, viral disease transmitted through the bite or scratch of an infected animal. In Michigan, bats are the most common carrier of rabies. Sick bats are more likely to have an encounter with a human or another animal. Sick bats may also display abnormal behaviors such as being active during the day, being found inside a home, or not being able to fly.

Individuals can reduce the risk of exposure to a rabid bat by avoiding picking up or touching bats, keeping rabies vaccinations up-to-date for pets, and bat-proofing the home.

Most individuals will never have contact with a rabid bat, but any direct contact with a bat should be considered a potential rabies threat. Other situations that may present a risk include finding a bat in a room with people who have been asleep, or finding a bat with an unattended child or impaired adult who cannot be sure they didn’t have contact with the bat. In all of these cases, it is important to collect the bat for rabies testing. Post exposure treatment is given to people who are exposed to a potentially rabid bat. Treatment is not necessary if the bat tests negative for rabies.

Muskegon County residents who find a bat in their home should safely confine or collect the bat if possible and call Public Health – Muskegon County at 231-724-1228 to determine if it should be tested for rabies. Information on how to collect a bat safely can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.