Grand Traverse County Bat Tests Positive for Rabies

The Grand Traverse County Health Department says a bat from the area has tested positive for rabies.

They say the bat was found Friday and is the first in the county to test positive for rabies since 2017. It’s only the third specimen to test positive for rabies in Grand Traverse County since 2012.

Health officials say with limited veterinarian access due to COVID-19 restrictions this spring, some family pets could be behind in vaccinations.

They want to remind people to keep their pets up to date on shots, including those for rabies.

The health department says there is no known cure for rabies, but post-exposure vaccines are available.

To minimize exposure to rabies, the health department recommends the following steps:

  • Vaccinate dogs, cats, ferrets, horses and other selected livestock for rabies and keep vaccinations current.
  • Report any unusual animal behavior to Animal Control at the non-emergency number (231-995-6080). Unusual animal behaviors include, but are not limited to:
  • bats active during daylight hours,
  • excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth,
  • aggressive behaviors,
  • Avoid contact with stray and wild animals.
  • Keep pets under supervision in a yard or on a leash to minimize contact with wild animals.
  • Teach children to never approach unfamiliar dogs, cats or wildlife, even if they appear friendly.
  • Treat animal bites with soap and water and contact a medical professional immediately.
  • People waking to find a bat in their room or a child’s room should capture/collect the bat if possible to submit for testing. Test results are a critical component of the decision process for PEP. Bats have such small teeth even unknown or minor contact with bats has led to rabies infection.
  • Contact the Communicable Disease office at the Health Department to report exposure to an animal that is known to carry rabies, such as a dog bite or waking up to a bat in your house.