ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) — The Allegan County Health Department is reminding residents to vaccinate their pets and bat-proof their homes after a bat tested positive for rabies.

The rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and spreads through bites or scratches. The health department is recommending everyone take the following steps to protect themselves from rabies:

  • Vaccinate your pets regularly. This will protect them if exposed and prevent them from becoming sick and infecting humans.
  • Do not handle stray, wild, or dead animals.
  • Keep pets indoors or supervised to limit their exposure to wild animals that may be rabid.
  • Do not feed or put water out for outdoor pets.
  • Keep all garages securely covered because they may attract wild or stray animals.

If you choose to bat-proof your home yourself, the Allegan County Health Department recommends the following steps:

  • Carefully examine your home for holes that might allow bats to enter your living quarters. If any are found, caulk the openings that are larger than a quarter inch by a half inch. Use window screens, chimney caps and draft guards beneath doors to attics. Fill electrical and plumbing holes with stainless steel wool or caulk. Ensure all doors to the outside are closed tight.
  • To prevent bats from roosting in attics or buildings, cover the outside entry points. Find where the bats exit at dusk and keep them from coming back by loosely hanging clear plastic sheeting or bird netting over that area. The bats that are still inside can crawl out and leave but can’t re-enter. When all the bats are gone, the openings can be permanently sealed.
  • Install a chimney cap to prevent animals from living in your home.

If you find a bat inside your home that you are unable to remove, the health department recommends calling a local animal removal service.

For additional tips, visit the CDC’s website.

If you are bitten by a domestic animal, call animal control at 269.673.0519 to report the injury. For non-domestic “wild” animals, call the Allegan County Health Department at 269.673.5411.

This is the second rabies case verified in a bat in Allegan County this year, the health department said..