Rabid bat found in Ionia Co.; several people treated

Ionia County
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PORTLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Several people are being treated for rabies after coming in contact with an infected bat in Ionia County.

The county health department says the rabid bat was discovered Wednesday on East Grand River Avenue in Portland. Health officials say several people handled the bat with bare hands and one person was bitten. They are all now being treated for rabies with a two-week course of four vaccines.

Most cases of rabies involve wild animals – mainly skunks, raccoons, coyotes, foxes and bats. The health department urges pet owners to vaccinate cats, dogs and ferrets and livestock against rabies. Petting zoo animals should also be treated.

The health department says all bats are assumed to have rabies unless testing proves otherwise. Health officials test animals for rabies only if the deadly disease is suspected and humans were exposed.

Suspicious bats should be captured so their brain and spinal column remain intact for testing. Dead bats should be kept cool in a refrigerator. Bats should be captured using thick work gloves, placing a container over the creature when it lands, slipping a piece of cardboard underneath the container to serve as a base, then taping it securely closed. After securing the bat, call the Ionia County Health Department at 616.527.5341 ext. 295.

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