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Dip In Cases Of Rabies But State Cautions To Remain Vigilant, Cautious

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Bat hanging from a branch. (Credit: Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images)

Bat hanging from a branch. (Credit: Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images)

CBS Detroit (con't)

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LANSING (WWJ) – Rabies is a concern at any time of the year but the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s State Veterinarian says his office has noticed a dip in the number of reported cases this year.

Dr. James Averill tells WWJ that despite the decease in cases of rabies, the state encourages adoption of practices to help protect families and pets.

” … and keep up the good work … just because we don’t have a lot of cases doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stop continuing to use this vaccine that’s relatively cheap and does so much good for human health,” said Dr. Averill.

He says so far– only 35 cases of rabies are listed for 2013. In 2012 there were 61 cases spread by skunks, bats and foxes.

The rabies virus is usually transmitted via the bite of an infected animal. The virus can also be transmitted in the saliva of an infected animal into an open wound or onto mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose, or mouth.

“Michigan has rabies laws and programs that help protect citizens. Animal bites are reportable, and the State of Michigan requires dogs and ferrets be vaccinated against rabies,” said Averill.

He says you can’t always know if an animal has rabies, “but if your pet or livestock behave aggressively and this is not normal behavior, your should consider rabies as a possible cause, and take appropriate precautions.”

He adds that if a person is bitten by an animal they should wash the wound immediately, seek medical attention, and report the bite to the local health department.

The cases of rabid Michigan bats have been in located in the following counties: Berrien (2), Clinton (1), Emmet (1), Genesee (2), Ingham (6), Ionia (1), Jackson (2), Kalamazoo (1), Leelanau (1), Livingston (2), Mackinac (1), Macomb (2), Manistee (1), Mecosta (1), Missaukee (1), Monroe (1), Oakland (2), Ogenaw (1), St Clair (1), Tuscola (1), Washtenaw (3), and Wayne (1).

According to the World Health Organization, rabies is responsible for the deaths of 55,000 people worldwide.

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