WARNING: Bats Test Positive for Rabies

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The Mid-Michigan District Health Department says 2 bats in Gratiot County have tested positive for rabies. The Communicable Disease Nurse warns people to use caution around bats and fix areas where bats could get into your home.

Jeff Hempel of Molemen Wildlife Control Solutions says bats can get inside your home through a hole as small as a dime. The mammals are on the move from May through August.

The Mid-Michigan District Health Department handles cases in Montcalm, Gratiot and Clinton Counties. Becky Stoddard, Communicable Disease Nurse, says it appears bat season is off to a booming start. "If you find a bat, the best thing to do is to capture it. The brain needs to be intact in order to test for rabies. We recommend not to hit it with any kind of an object because you don't want to smash the head. Capturing it into a container is best and then call your local health department and they'll evaluate whether it needs to be brought in for testing or not."

Hempel says most people don't know what to do when they find a bat. "Think about all the bats that are caught in homes and nobody ever turns them in, they just throw them outside. How many times does that happen? Probably 90 percent of the time that's what happens."

Stoddard says it's important to have the bat tested, if people were exposed to it. "The situations that concern us a lot are if a bat is found in a room with a sleeping person, a child that's unattended or a mentally impaired or incapacitated adult. In those situations we don't know if a bite has occurred or not so we assume that there has been one."

Health officials say those exposed will need immediate treatment with rabies vaccinations. For more information on how to catch a bat, and what to do if you find one, click on the links included with this story.