First Michigan rabies case of 2017 confirmed in Ingham County bat

A little brown bat. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
A little brown bat. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan's first rabies case of 2017 was confirmed this week by state officials.

According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the disease was found in a big brown bat in Ingham County.

Read more: Rabies signs, symptoms and how to protect pets

Rabies is a viral disease that can be transmitted through bites and scratches from infected animals.

Bats and skunks are the most common carriers of the disease in Michigan. In 2016, there were 37 cases of rabid bats and four cases of rabid skunks in the state, MDARD said.

Rabies can be fatal to humans and animals.

To prevent rabies in animals, domestic pets and livestock should be vaccinated. Humans should avoid contact with wild animals.

If a pet or livestock is bitten or scratched by a wild animal or there may have been unsupervised contact with a wild animal, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. Even if the bitten animal is vaccinated, there may be other measures that need to be taken to prevent the virus from spreading.

If possible, the MDARD suggests capturing or confining the wild animal without touching it and contacting animal control, the local health department or a veterinarian so the animal can be tested for rabies.

If you are bitten or scratched by a wild animal, seek medical attention and contact your local health department.

If a bat is found in your home, you should safely confine or capture it and contact the local health department, MDARD said. The health department can determine if the bat needs to be tested for rabies.

Bat and wildlife removal services can also assist in removal.

If a wild animal appears to be sick, it can be reported to the Department of Natural Resources at 517-336-5030.