PORTLAND, Mich. - The Ionia County Health Department has confirmed that a bat has tested positive for rabies.
The bat was found on June 6 on East Grand River Avenue in Portland. The health department says several people handled the bat with their bare hands and one person was bitten.
All exposed individuals are receiving rabies prophylaxis (PEP) treatment, which includes four injections of a vaccine over a two-week period.
Rabies is a deadly disease that attacks the nervous system. It is secreted in the saliva of infected animals and transmitted to people and other animals through a bite. Once outward signs of it appear, it is almost always fatal, according to the health department.
Bats are assumed to have rabies unless proven otherwise by testing. If you find a bat in your home, you should attempt to catch it safely with leather work gloves and a small container. If the bat is already dead, the health department asks that you store it in the fridge (but don't freeze it) and contact them so it an be tested.
All cats, dogs and ferrets need to receive a rabies vaccine, and livestock (especially valuable animals such as horses) should also be vaccinated against rabies. Animals in petting zoos should also be vaccinated.
The following animals do not transmit rabies: chipmunks, guinea pigs, mice, shrews, muskrats, gerbils, hamsters, rabbits, squirrels, voles, gophers, moles, rats and prairie dogs.
Read more about safely handling bats and other rabid animals here.
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WZZM 13 app now.