Health officials want you to take steps to protect your family, pets from rabies

Rabies is fatal to humans

LANSING, Mich. - As the weather warms up, health officials in Michigan are warning people to take steps to protect themselves, their families and pets from rabies.

Rabies is a viral disease that can be transmitted through the bite or scratch of an infected animal. Health officials said bats and skunks are the most common carriers of rabies in Michigan.

There were 79 cases of rabies in animals in Michigan just last year. That includes 77 bats and two skunks. As of Wednesday, health officials had tested 928 animals for rabies this year and confirmed cases in five bats and two skunks.

People or pets usually become exposed to rabies when they are bitten by an infected animal. If a bat has been in a room with people who were asleep or impaired, health officials said it's important to have that bat collected and tested for rabies. That's because in those situations, it's hard to be sure if you've had contact with the bat.

Protect your family, pets from rabies

Untreated rabies is fatal to humans, and postexposure treatment is available to people who were exposed to a potentially rabid animal.

Steps you can take to prevent rabies include the following:

  • Avoid contact with wild animals
  • Do not keep wild animals as pets
  • Do not try to rehabilitate wildlife
  • If a wild animal appears sick report it to the Department of Natural Resources at or by calling 517-336-5030
  • If you are bitten or scratched, seek medical attention and alert the local health department
  • If there's a bat in your home, confine or collect the bat and contact your local health department
  • Get your pets vaccinated against rabies
  • If your pet comes in contact with a wild animal, contact your veterinarian

More information can be found online here.

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