Bat found in Detroit's Palmer Park tests positive for rabies

Health officials urge residents to make sure pets are up to date on vaccinations

By Halston Herrera - Digital news editor
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DETROIT - A bat that was found in Detroit's Palmer Park area has tested positive for rabies.

According to the Institute for Population Health, the bat was found April 27.

It was unable to fly and therefore euthanized and sent to the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) for testing.

Last week, the MDCH notified the IPH that the bat had tested positive for rabies.

According to MDCH, this is the second bat that has tested positive for rabies in Michigan this year and the first rabid animal that has been found in Detroit since 2011.

While bats are a common source of rabies in Michigan, other medium to large wildlife (e.g., skunks, foxes, woodchucks) have also been known to be infected with rabies.

In the past, Michigan has also had rare cases of rabies in unvaccinated domestic pets (e.g., cats, dogs).

Rabies can be transmitted to humans through the saliva of an infected animal (e.g., via a bite or an open wound that was exposed to the animal's saliva). People who have potentially been exposed to a rabid animal should seek medical care immediately and receive the appropriate post-exposure treatment, including Human Rabies Immune Globulin (HRIG) and the rabies vaccinations series.

Humans that are bitten by domestic pets that are up-to-date on their rabies vaccines do not need to receive treatment for rabies. However, anyone bitten by an animal should be seen by a medical professional who will evaluate the need for a tetanus booster shot, wound care, and/or antibiotics.

Rabies is 100% preventable if a person receives prompt medical care and the appropriate post-exposure treatment.

For infected individuals who do not receive the appropriate post-exposure treatment, however, the rabies fatality rate is close to 100%. Of note, the most recent human fatality due to rabies in the state occurred in 2009.

VIDEO: 4 Your Pets: Keep your pets safe from Rabies

IPH advises all residents and visitors to the City of Detroit to follow the guidelines below to help prevent and protect against rabies:

  • Do not handle wild (e.g., bats, skunks, raccoons) or stray animals.

  • Report stray animals or bat exposures to the City of Detroit Animal Control Department at (313) 224-6356.

  • Call the IPH Communicable Disease Program at 313-324-9680 if you are bitten by a stray, wild, and/or unvaccinated animal.

  • Advise your children not to touch, pet, or play with animals that they do not know.

  • Ensure that your pets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.

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