LAWTON, Mich. (WOOD) — The Van Buren County Department of Health is reminding residents to vaccinate their pets for rabies after a bat tested positive for the virus in Lawton.

Rabies can spread to people and pets through an infected animal’s bites or scratches. Anyone who has had direct contact with a bat should be considered to have been possibly exposed, the department of health said.

Anyone who has been bitten or exposed is asked to contact the department of health as soon as possible at 269.621.3143.

“The law requires all animal bites to be reported to local animal control and the local health department. You can submit the specimen for rabies testing to the Bureau of Labs if there is an exposure at no cost to the exposed person/s,” the department of health said in a statement.

Anyone who has been exposed to a bat is asked to not let the bat go and to safely capture the bat so it can be tested for rabies. If the bat is unavailable for testing, treatment will be recommended to prevent rabies. If the bat is tested and does not have rabies, no treatment is needed. 

For post-exposure prophylaxis, visit your local emergency room.

If a pet might have been bitten or scratched by a wild animal such as a bat, raccoon, or skunk, contact your veterinarian.

For additional tips, visit the CDC’s website.

This is the first rabies case in an animal for the county this year. The last positive test was in 2021.