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The Washtenaw Health Department County has identified the first rabid bat in the county since 2022. The Health Department reminds community members to report all bat exposures and animal bites using our secure online form before letting the animal go.

“We were enjoying a longer stretch with no rabies-positive animals, but it’s not unusual for us to see some rabid bats in the county every year,” says Ailen Velazquez, MSc, MD, Washtenaw County Health Department epidemiology coordinator. “We often see more bat encounters in the summer and fall months, so we want to remind everyone to contact the Health Department if you find a bat in your home.”

“Our public health staff are available to talk through each situation and determine if there was any risk of rabies exposure. This is critical because rabies is almost always fatal if not prevented with post-exposure vaccination,” says Velazquez.

The rabid bat was found in the 48108 zip code. Local rabies data is available on our website: www.washtenaw.org/1795/Rabies

What to do if you find a bat in your home

If you find a bat in your home, don’t let it out until you talk with the Health Department. Bat bites are so small they are often undetectable. Costly rabies post-exposure treatments can be avoided if animals are captured and sent for rabies testing.

All bat exposures and animal bites can be reported to the Health Department using our secure online form. If you need immediate assistance during normal business hours (8:30am-5:00pm, Monday-Friday), please call us at 734-544-6700. Please do not bring bats to the Health Department. After hours, if someone has been bitten or you need immediate assistance, please contact an emergency department.

See more guidance on what to do if a bat is present in your home on our website.

Rabies

Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease. It can spread to people and pets if they are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal. Most reported cases occur in wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. The virus infects the central nervous system, resulting in disease within the brain and then death. If a person is exposed to rabies, the disease can be prevented with a series of shots before symptoms occur.

The Washtenaw County Health Department recommends the following rabies prevention measures:

  • Make sure all open doors and windows have screens to prevent bats from entering your home. Check for other small openings, especially in older homes. Bats can enter through holes the size of a dime.
  • If you are bitten or scratched by a stray or wild animal, clean the bite or scratch wound immediately with soap and water and seek immediate medical attention.
  • Keep all pets, including cats, dogs, ferrets, and horses, up to date on rabies vaccines.

 Additional resources

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