Rabid bat identified in Houghton County

Copper Country

FILE — In this Feb. 8, 2017 file photo, a northern long-eared bat is held at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, in Cleveland. Tree-cutting on a key stretch of a power line in western Maine is going to stop almost as soon as it started to protect the newly born young of the federally protected bat. A federal appeals court last week gave the green light for construction on a 53-mile segment of the New England Clean Energy Connect, but construction will have to stop in June and July to protect the northern long-eared bat, which has been hard-hit by so-called white nose syndrome. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

HOUGHTON COUNTY, Mich – A rabid bat has been identified in Houghton County, according to the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department.

The bat was collected from the porch of a home in Houghton. This is the first case of rabies in an animal in Houghton County this year. The last time an animal in the district tested positive for rabies was over a decade ago. The Western U.P. Health Department (WUPHD) is reminding residents that wild animals continue to be active this time of year, which means the possibility of exposure to rabies increases.

Rabies is a viral disease of mammals and is transmitted through the bite, saliva, 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. WUPHD said it’s 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. Preventative 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, follow these tips.

For people:

  • 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 WUPHD 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 WUPHD to determine if it should be tested for rabies. If the bat escapes or is released, contact WUPHD to discuss the situation and determine if treatment of people potentially exposed to the bat is necessary.

For animals:

  • 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 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.

More information about rabies and a map of rabies positive animals in Michigan can be found
at www.Michigan.gov/rabies.

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