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Oakland County Michigan Health Department News Release
Residents Urged to Take Precautions Preventing Rabies in Michigan

According to a Press Release issued by the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), late summer is the busiest time of year for rabies testing at the MDCH Bureau of Laboratories. As a result, Oakland County Health Division is urging residents to take precautions against rabies exposure from animals such as bats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, or unknown stray animals.

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. In Michigan, bats are the animal most often found to be infected with the rabies virus. People and unvaccinated animals typically get rabies from the bite of an infected animal, most commonly, a bat. More rarely, the rabies virus can also be spread if saliva from an infected animal gets into the eyes, nose, mouth or a wound.

To avoid unnecessary treatment expenses an attempt must be made to collect the animal for rabies testing. According to Dr. Julie Vaishampayan, Chief of Medical Services for OCHD, “If the bat or animal is unavailable for testing, the exposed person may need to receive treatment that can cost in excess of $2,000 and consist of 5 visits for shots in 28 days. Therefore, it important to trap the bat or animal whenever it is possible, without putting yourself at risk.”

Tips to prevent exposure to rabies:

  • Never handle a wild animal like a bat, raccoon, skunk, or fox, or an unknown stray dog or cat.
  • Remind children to inform an adult if they see a sick or injured animal and DO NOT TOUCH.
  • Call the local animal control to remove stray or wild animals from your yard, home or neighborhood.
  • Keep pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals. Also, keeping pets up to date on rabies vaccinations helps prevent the spread of rabies.
  • Prevent bats or wild animals from entering your homes or spaces where people or pets may be present.

DO NOT RELEASE THE ANIMAL and call your local animal control office or police department if any of the following occur:

  • You wake up in a room with a bat or wild animal;
  • A bat or wild animal is found in a room with a sleeping or unattended child;
  • A bat or wild animal is found in a room of a mentally impaired or intoxicated person;
  • Call your local animal control office or police department.

If any of the above occur, MEDICAL ATTENTION MAY BE REQUIRED. Call the OCHD Communicable Disease Unit at 248-858-1286 to determine risk of exposure. After hours, call 248-858-0931 and ask for the Health Administrator on call.

If bitten or scratched by a bat, raccoon, skunk or other wild animal:

  • Wash the infected area immediately and seek medical attention.
  • Contact the OCHD Communicable Disease Unit at 248-858-1286 to determine risk of exposure.

For more information, visit www.oakgov.com/health; www.michigan.gov/rabies; www.cdc.gov/rabies.