Bat Bites and Rabies in Michigan
Bats can transmit rabies to people - without an obvious bite. Bat bites can go undetectected because their teeth are very small and do not leave easily recognizable wounds. This is what makes encounters with bats in a bedroom or home so emotional. Are you certain you were not bitten?
According to Oakland County Health Department, “If you wake up in a room with a bat present, regardless if there is evidence of a bite or scratch, seek medical attention. If at all possible trap the bat for rabies testing. Do not release the bat.”
While, only a small percentage of bats catch rabies, the disease is nearly always fatal. Once symptoms start to appear, it is too late.
Bats die of rabies just like any other animal. Sick bats can be on the ground or spearated from the rest of the colony.
All potential rabies exposures must be taken seriously, consult your physician for medical advice.
The virus travels through the nerves, rather than thorough the bloodstream and reaches the brain in a period of weeks or months. Rabies is a potentially fatal disease unless treated quickly.
If you wake up with a bat in your bedroom, seek medical attention. Unless that particular bat is captured and tested, we find that physicians recommend post exposure vaccinations. This advice can reduce your stress and provide protection from the possible exposure.
Bat's and Rabies - Scientific Studies.
Researchers at Indiana State University conducted one of the longest studies on the incidence of rabies in mid-western bats. The study was concluded in 2003, and covered a span of 38 years. During that time 5,584 big brown bats were evaluated for rabies with 3.1% testing positive. Peak months for rabies in this species was October. It is important to note that the sampled population was biased in that many of the bats were impaired and easier to locate (sick, dying or were found on the ground). In other words, many bats that were suspected to be infected with rabies were not infected. The study acknowledges that a better estimate of the actual incidence of rabies in a nature is likely to be less than 1%. That said, take all suspected bat bits seriously, and contact your physician for medical advice.
Source: Whitaker and Douglas. Bat Rabies in Indiana.
Bat Rabies - Links
Center for Disease Control - Rabies Information & Bat Information.
Oakland County Health Department - If you were bitten by a bat.
Macomb County Health Department - Contact for Animal Laboratory Testing in Macomb County.
Livingston County Health Department - Contact for Animal Laboratory Testing in Livingston County
Lapeer County Health Department - Contact for Animal Laboratory Testing in Livingston County.
Washtenaw County Health Department - Contact for Animal Laboratory Testing in Livingston County.
Wayne County Health Department - Contact for Animal Laboratory Testing in Livingston County.
Shiawawssee County Health Department - Contact for Animal Laboratory Testing in Livingston County.