Muskegon - For the third time this year, a bat has tested positive for rabies in Muskegon County.
Health officials say the bats were all found in the same area - specifically, Muskegon's Lakeside neighborhood, which is across the street from the Cross-Lake Ferry.
On Friday, the Muskegon County Health Dept. sent three more bats to Lansing to be tested. Officials say they could also be infected with the disease.
In the last three cases, residents found the bats inside their homes, and either captured the bats themselves or called the county for help.
Because bat bites are so small the homeowners have no idea if they were bitten or not, but are being tested for rabies just in case.
Due to this being the third bat with rabies, county workers believe there could possibly be a colony living somewhere in or near the Lakeside neighborhood.
County officials say residents need to start taking caution.
"This is a disease that, once symptoms set in, you're going to die," says Ken Kraus. "So if people are not aware of what to do it can be very lethal."
If you happen to run across a bat, rabid or not, county officials say avoid touching them. If you have to, wear some type of gloves.
Also, bat-proof your home by closing any openings larger than a quarter inch. Bats can get in through chimneys, vents, and even loose shingles.
If you are bitten, wash the wound immediately and seek medical help. Rabies infection is preventable if you treat it early.
Finally, to help your pets, keep their vaccinations up to date, and watch them as close as you can.