A Rabid Bat Has Been Found in Van Buren County
Please Follow Proper Precautions
Lawrence, MI – A rabid bat has been identified in Van Buren County. The bat was collected from
a home in Lawton, Michigan. This is the first case of rabies in an animal in Van Buren County this year. The last time an animal in the county tested positive for rabies was in 2021. The Van Buren Cass District Health Department (VBCDHD) is reminding residents that bats are more active this time of year, which means the possibility of exposure to rabies increases.
Rabies is a deadly but preventable disease. Rabies can spread to people and pets through an infected animal’s bites or scratches. Bats are the most common way that people in Michigan, and the United States, come in contact with rabies. People and domestic animals should avoid contact with bats. Any direct contact with a bat should be considered a possible exposure to rabies. Other possible exposures can include finding a bat in the same room as a person who may not be aware that contact has occurred, such as a sleeping person, a child, or someone who is mentally impaired or intoxicated.
If someone has been bitten by an animal or has been in contact with, exposed to, or bitten by a bat, contact VBCDHD as soon as possible at (269-621-3143). The law requires all animal bites to be reported to local animal control and the local health department. You can submit the specimen for rabies testing to the Bureau of Labs if there is an exposure at no cost to the exposed person/s.
If someone may have been exposed to a bat, PLEASE DO NOT LET THE BAT GO. Safely capture the bat for rabies testing and immediately contact VBCDHD. Post Exposure Prophylaxis is only available through the local Emergency Rooms. It can not be provided at your local health department Information on how to safely capture a bat can be found here or in this video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNw6hkFEtOk.
If the bat is unavailable for testing, treatment will be recommended to prevent rabies. If the bat is tested and does not have rabies, treatment is not needed. It is also important to protect pets against rabies. Dogs, cats, and ferrets should be vaccinated against rabies by a veterinarian. If a pet might have been bitten or scratched by a wild animal such as a bat, raccoon, or skunk, contact a veterinarian for instructions on how to prevent rabies.
More information about rabies and a map of rabies positive animals in Michigan can be found at www.Michigan.gov/rabies.