Allegan County Health Department is reminding area residents to vaccinate their pets and bat-proof their homes, following the second verified report of a rabid bat tested within the county this year.
The latest confirmed rabies case occurred this month, following a case that was confirmed earlier this year.
“Now is the best time to ‘bat-proof’ your home,” said Liz Healy, public information officer for the health department in a news release. The health department outlined several suggestions for “bat-proofing” homes:
Examine your home for holes that might allow bats entry into living quarters. Caulk any openings larger than a quarter-inch by a half-inch. Use window screens, chimney caps, and draft guards beneath doors to attics, fill electrical and plumbing holes with stainless steel wool or caulking, and ensure that all doors to the outside close tightly.
Prevent bats from roosting in attics or buildings by covering outside entry points. Find where the bats exit at dusk and keep them from coming back by loosely hanging clear plastic sheeting or bird netting over these areas. Bats can crawl out and leave, but cannot re-enter. When all the bats are gone, the openings can be permanently sealed.
Install a chimney cap to prevent animals from living in your home.
Call local Animal Removal Services which can be found in your local directory if you have a bat in your home that you are unable to remove, or for CDC tips on how you can safely contain the bat yourself, visit Avoid risk of rabies from bats | Rabies | CDC.
“The rabies virus, most often found in bats, is in the saliva of infected animals and is spread through bites or scratches. There are simple steps everyone can take to protect themselves from rabies,” Healy said.
Have pets vaccinated regularly. This will protect them if exposed to animals with the disease and prevent them from becoming ill and infecting humans.
Do not handle stray, wild, or dead animals.
Keep pets indoors or supervised to limit their exposure to wild animals that may be rabid.
Do not feed, or put water for, pets outside.
Keep garbage securely covered, as these items may attract wild or stray animals.
If you are bitten by a domestic animal (such as a dog or cat), call Animal Control at (269) 673-0519 to report the injury. For non-domestic “wild” animals such as skunks, raccoons, foxes, and bats (not a cat or dog) call the ACHD at (269) 673-5411.