Washtenaw County Health Department notified of first rabid bat in 2022

A photo of the endangered Mexican long-nosed bat (J. Scott Altenbach)

YPSILANTI, Mich. – Washtenaw County residents should be cautious when exposed to bats and other wild animals.

On Thursday, the Washtenaw County Health Department announced it had received a report of a rabid bat, the first of 2022.

Bats, along with coyotes, foxes, raccoons, shunks and unvaccinated household pets, can carry rabies — a viral disease found the saliva of infected animals. The virus is transmitted when an infected animal bites or scratches another animal or person.

Symptoms of rabies include fever, headaches, fatigue, pain, numbness near the bite, paralysis and seizures, among others. The disease is fatal if not treated.

So far, the reported case is the only one of its kind this year. As of February 14, eleven animals in Washtenaw County had been tested for rabies, including four bats, but only one tested positive, according to a chart from the Health Department.

Those who are bit by animals or exposed to bats should report the incidents to Washtenaw County Health Department at 734-544-6700 to see if rabies testing is needed.

If a bat is found in a home, residents should try to safely collect the animal. Residents can try to use leather gloves and a container to catch the animal or call animal control companies for help, according to the Health Department’s Rabies factsheet.

Those who are bit or scratched should by a potentially rabid animal should clean the wound right away and contact their doctor or healthcare provider. Exposed individuals may need a series of preventative shots and treatment.

Learn more about the county’s rabies resources here.

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.