World Rabies Day was on Wednesday, September 28th, 2022. The Kent County Health Department made us aware that bats are the animals most often found with rabies in Michigan.

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It's a Busy Bat Season

According to the Kent County Health Department's September Newsletter...

"We are in the middle of a busy bat season."

This is the time of year that bats move indoors to breed. The Health Department works with the Kent County Animal Shelter to perform necropsies on dead bats that are found by residents in their homes.

In 2020, the Health Department received and tested 61 bats. The following year, 2021, that number was just 41 bats, but this year they have received 82 bats so far. Of those bats received and tested in 2022 -- five have tested positive for rabies.

Photo by Todd Cravens on Unsplash

How Can You Catch Rabies from a Bat?

In their September Newsletter, the Kent County Health Department says all it takes to spread rabies is a bit or a scratch from a bat. Bats have very small teeth, so at times it has been possible that people have been bitten by a bat and not know.

If you wake up with a bat in your room, even if you don't think you were bitten, you may have been exposed to rabies and should see your doctor or call your health department. If you find a bat in a room with someone sleeping, an intoxicated person, or a child, the Health Department suggests that you do your best to capture the bat and have it tested for rabies.

How to Catch a Bat

To capture a bat safely, experts recommend wearing leather gloves to avoid any bites. One of the best ways to catch a bat is to place a box or coffee can over the bat and then slide a piece of carboard under the container.

Here is a video from the New York State Health Department that demonstrates the easiest and safest way to catch a bat...

What Do I Do With the Captured Bat?

If you find or capture a bat, call the Kent County Health Department at (616) 632-7200 to arrange for testing.

What Happens if the Bat Tests Positive for Rabies?

If the bat tests positive or if you have been bitten or scratched by a bat that is not available for testing, the exposed person should receive rabies shots. If a tested bat comes back with negative results, no rabies treatment is required. Rabies is rare, but is almost always fatal. Bats are the leading cause of rabies deaths in people here in the United States. Additional information can be found on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.


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