Van Buren/Cass District Health Department receives confirmation of rabid bat in Van Buren County

Published 10:13 am Wednesday, September 29, 2021

VAN BUREN COUNTY – The Van Buren/Cass District Health Department was notified Sept. 16 of a bat that tested positive for rabies. The bat was discovered in the 49065 zip code within Van Buren county. This is the first rabid bat identified in Van Buren County since 2016.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the number of positive cases of rabies in bats is higher this year than in past years.

Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the nervous system and brain, frequently leading to death. Rabies is most commonly found in bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Unvaccinated pets and livestock can also be infected. To date, there have been 40 bats and one dog that have tested positive for rabies in Michigan during 2021. It is not always possible to determine that an animal is infected with rabies by an initial observation, health department officials said.

Symptoms of rabies infection in animals include nervousness, aggressiveness, excessive drooling, foaming at the mouth and abnormal behavior. This abnormal behavior can include wild animals losing their fear of human beings and animals that are normally active at night being active during the day.

Animals and humans can be exposed to rabies if they are bitten by an infected animal, or the saliva of an infected animal comes in contact with fresh scratches, cuts, or the membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth.

“If someone is bitten by a bat, do not let the bat go,” health officials said. “If possible, save the bat for testing. Seek medical attention immediately. Contact the local health department or animal control agency to arrange for rabies testing.”

Rabies vaccination for pets and livestock is an extremely important step in preventing a rabies infection. Even pets that are kept indoors can encounter a rabid animal inside the home.

A resident should contact a veterinarian if they think their pet or livestock has possibly been exposed to rabies.

“Please contact Van Buren Cass District Health Department for further information and guidance if you think you have had rabies exposure in humans or animals and steps to prevent infection,” officials said.

Visit Van Buren Cass District Health Department website at vbcassdhd.org or call (269) 621-3143 and ask to speak with a Public Health Nurse.

For more information on rabies, visit Emerging Disease Issues – Rabies.