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Published 5/19/2020
2:20pm

Bat Found in Shiawassee County Has Tested Positive for Rabies

Shiawassee County Health Department Details Important Information About Reporting Bat Exposure

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On May 18, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) laboratory confirmed that a bat found in Shiawassee County tested positive for rabies. Rabies can only be confirmed with laboratory testing.
 
Rabies is most commonly transmitted by a rabid animal scratch or bite. Most reported cases occur in wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes.
 
If a bat is found inside the home, the Shiawassee County Health Department recommends safely collecting the bat and following these guidelines:

• Wear leather gloves. A bat should never be handled with bare hands.
• Place a clear container over the bat, slide a piece of sturdy cardboard under the container, and firmly secure the cardboard or the lid to the container with tape.
• A dead bat should be submitted for rabies testing. Do not crush the bat or put the bat into the freezer.
• Contact the Communicable Disease Nurse at the Shiawassee County Health Department at 989- 743-2356. If the Health Department is closed, keep the bat cold until it can be taken to the Health Department.

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  Most people know when they have been bitten. However, exposure can occur without an individual knowing they have been scratched or bitten, especially with bats. Bats have small teeth and tiny claws, making it difficult for an exposure to be detected.  

A sleeping person awakened to a bat in the room is considered exposed. It is also considered an exposure when a bat is found in a room with an unattended child, or a mentally impaired or intoxicated person. Under such circumstances, it is very important to capture the bat for testing.

If a pet has been exposed, it is important to capture the bat and submit it for testing. If this cannot be done, follow up with your veterinarian or Disease Surveillance at 989-743-2356. All cats and dogs must have current rabies vaccinations.

Death from the disease is most frequently a result of individuals being unaware of their exposure, or from failure to seek medical attention after being bitten or scratched. On average 2-3 people in the United States die each year due to rabies.

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