Bats with rabies have been found in Mid-Michigan - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Bats with rabies have been found in Mid-Michigan

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CLAYTON TOWNSHIP (WJRT) -

(10/22/13) - With all the advances in medicine, there's still concern about rabies. The state veterinarian says people need to take steps to protect families, pets and livestock from one of the deadliest diseases known.

When they see images of bats, people might think of Halloween and scary fun. But real bats can carry rabies and one bite could be deadly.

"It's a very serious disease and it is nearly impossible to treat," said Nicole Stilson, DVM, of the Swartz Creek Veterinary Clinic.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture tracks rabid bats in the state. Thirty-five have been found so far this year, which is down slightly from average. Genesee, Livingston and Oakland Counties have each reported two. Tuscola County has seen one.

While rabies is a threat to people, it's seen more often in dogs and cats.

"If there's a pet you know that has been bitten, immediately seek the help of a veterinary," Dr. Stilson said.

While state law requires dogs and ferrets to be vaccinated against rabies, there is no such requirement for cats. But vets strongly recommend it.

Many people think if their cat spends all its time indoors it doesn't need to be protected. That is not the case.

"Often people forget, particularly with their indoor cats, that they can be exposed to rabies from those bats who can gain access to their homes," Dr. Stilson said.

Bats can work their way into attics and chimneys, sometimes surprising people when they show up in living rooms and bedrooms.

"They think in their homes they're safe and they don't have potential to be exposed to rabies," Dr. Stilson said.

For information on how to handle a bat problem in your home, click here.

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