HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Public health officials are warning residents to be careful after three bats tested positive for rabies in Ottawa County.
Two bats were found in the Holland area and one was in the Hudsonville area, the Ottawa County Department of Public Health said in a Friday release.
Before those three bats tested positive, there were only two known cases of rabies in the county in the past five years.
Bats — which tend to be most active from May to September — can pass rabies on to humans and other animals through a bite or scratch if they are infected. Rabies can be fatal for humans.
Health officials are warning residents to protect themselves and their pets, especially if a bat is found in the house.
Health officials say to avoid wild animals if possible, especially bats and skunks, which are the most common carriers in the state. You should also make sure your pets are vaccinated against rabies, even indoor cats.
If you find a bat in your home, try to catch it so it can be tested. If you can’t safely catch it, you can call a wildlife removal service.
Catching it for testing is especially important if you were exposed to it while sleeping, or a kid who can’t tell you if they were scratched was exposed to it.
If you are bitten or scratched by a bat or other wild animal, immediately seek medical attention. If you are exposed to a bat or find one in your home, call OCDPH at 616.396.5266.
If your pet is bitten or scratched, or it has contact with wildlife and you don’t know if it was scratched, contact your veterinarian even if it’s vaccinated.
More information can be found at michigan.gov/rabies.