Rabid bat discovery sparks veterinarian concerns

Dr. Jill Erickson found a bat infected with rabies in her own garage. She is practicing what she preaches to her clients everyday, and that's to vaccinate pets on a regular basis.

The first reported case of rabies this year has been confirmed in Michigan's northwest Lower Peninsula, and that has veterinarians reminding pet owners to stay up-to-date on vaccinations.

Dr. Jill Erickson found the bat crawling on her garage floor last week. She is practicing what she preaches to her clients everyday, and that's to vaccinate pets on a regular basis.

â??I knew that there was something wrong with the bat just from the way it was acting,â?? said Dr. Erickson, a veterinarian at the Cherry Bend Animal Hospital.

Dr. Erickson was concerned for her dogsâ?? safety when she found the bat. She decided to send it to be tested for rabies.

â??Honestly I was surprised when the test came back positive.â??

She is keeping a close eye on her dogs and says rabies are not common in Northern Michigan.

â??This incident that happened in my own home really made it a lot more personal."

Dr. Erickson, who lives and works in Leelanau County, is taking this opportunity to stress the importance of regular vaccinations.

â??Keeping our pets vaccinated who go out and play with all kinds of dead animals and sick animals if they have the chance really puts them at risk, and while rabies fortunately is very uncommon it is something in the area and any dog or cat could potentially be exposed.â??

One dog owner who lives near the area where the infected bat was found, says her dog gets vaccinated on a regular basis.

â??Our pets are our family and we don't want anything happening to them, especially rabies. That's pretty serious,â?? said dog owner Sharon Baswell.

â??Other animals that can be infected with rabies include our own pets, dogs and cats, raccoons, fox, skunks,â?? said Dr. Erickson.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, rabies is typically transmitted by the bite of an infected animal through saliva. If you come across an animal you think has rabies, you're encouraged to submit an on-line form to the Department of Natural Resources.