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Michigan health officials are warning residents about bats now that more have tested positive for rabies this year.

Through June 28, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ laboratories bureau had identified rabies in 22 bats and two skunks, representatives said Monday. 

Last year at this time, the state had only identified nine bats with the viral disease. Throughout 2017, there were 38 cases of rabies in animals in Michigan, including 35 bats, two skunks and one cat. 

Rabies is transmitted through the bite or scratch of an infected animal and is fatal to humans, the health department said. Bats and skunks are the most common carriers in Michigan.

State residents are more likely to encounter bats between May and September, when the animals seek food and are actively rearing their young, the health department said.

As protection, the health department suggests residents:

•Avoid contact with wild animals and do not keep any as pets.  Report those appearing sick to the Department of Natural Resources online or at (517) 336-5030. 

•Seek immediate medical attention and alert your local health department if bitten or scratched by an animal.

Safely confine or collect a bat if it’s found in your home. Contact your local health department to determine if it should be tested for rabies.


•Vaccinate pets. Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible if they’ve had contact with wildlife or been bitten.  

For information, go to www.michigan.gov.
 

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