Animal Bites / Rabies / Bat Exposure

Rabies

The Jackson County Health Department and Jackson County Animal Shelter collectively investigate bites, scratches or rabies exposures when the victim is human or a domestic animal such as a pet dog or cat. If you or someone you know has been bitten or scratched by an animal, or has an animal that has bitten or scratched, and you aren't sure what to do, please call the Jackson County Health Department’s Communicable Disease Division at 517-768-1664 or the Jackson County Animal Shelter at 517-788-4464 and ask us.​

When to call 911:
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​As of January 1, 2014, Animal Control Officers are no longer available in Jackson County. If you have a potentially dangerous situation involving animals, please dial 911. A law enforcement officer will be dispatched.
https://www.co.jackson.mi.us/DocumentCenter/View/5465/Rabies-PDF
https://www.michigan.gov/documents/emergingdiseases/BE_AWARE_RABIES_BOOK_603507_7.pdf
https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/exposure/index.html
https://www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases/0,4579,7-186-76711_78041---,00.html​​​​​

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Common Questions and Answers

Found a bat in your home?

If you find a bat inside your home, are bitten or scratched by a bat, OR if you find a bat in a room with:

  • A sleeping person;
  • an unattended child;
  • a mentally impaired person;
  • an intoxicated person

DO NOT DISCARD IT OR LET IT GO!

Save the bat for testing and if bitten or scratched, wash the wound with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.  Take care to capture the bat safely without damaging the head.  Rabies testing is done on the brain.  Wear leather gloves and approach the bat slowly.  Place a box or coffee can over the bat.  Punch holes in a piece of cardboard to allow the bat to breath and slide it under the containers to trap the bat inside.  Contact Jackson County Health Department's Communicable Disease Department at 517-768-1664 or the Jackson County Animal Shelter at 517- 788-4464 to arrange for rabies testing.  If it is a weekend or holiday, keep the bat cold but DO NOT FREEZE and follow up the next business day.  Determining that a bat is negative for rabies infection can make rabies post exposure vaccine prophylaxis unnecessary. 

If the bat escapes and /or is unable to be tested, do not delay seeking medical advice.  Contact your family doctor or visit the nearest emergency room.  Henry Ford Allegiance Health Emergency Room is the only place to obtain rabies vaccine in Jackson County.

In Michigan, bats are the animal most often found to be rabid.  People usually know when they have been bitten by a bat.  However, bats have small teeth that may not leave marks that are easy to see and the bite may not be felt.  There are conditions in which a person could be bitten by a  bat and not know it or be able to report it.

What to do if you have been bitten or scratched by an animal other than a bat.

Secure the animal, if you can, taking care to prevent additional bites.  If the animal is a pet, get the pet owner's name, address, and telephone number. 

If the animal must be killed, do not damage the head.  Rabies testing is done on the brain.

When dealing with a dead animal, wear gloves or use a shovel to move the animal. Put the animal's body in a heavy duty plastic bag and place in a protected area away from people and other animals.  If an animal must be stored for testing, keep it cold but do not freeze. 

Wash the wound(s) well with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.  Do not delay seeking medical advice.  Contact your family doctor or visit the nearest urgent care or emergency room.  Rabies can be prevented with prompt treatment.

Contact Jackson County Health Department's Communicable Disease Department at 517-768-1664, the Jackson County Animal Shelter at 517-788-4464 or your local police to report the bite and decide what should be done about the animal.  

  • A domestic cat, dog or ferret that has up-to-date rabies vaccine documentation shall be confined to the owner's home for 10 days IF NOT ILL.
  • If the (vaccinated) animal has symptoms of rabies or develops symptoms during the 10 days, it must be euthanized immediately and tested for rabies.
  • An unvaccinated domestic animal should be confined for 10 days for observation.  If it becomes ill, it must be euthanized and tested for rabies.  A rabies vaccination should be given to a healthy animal after the 10 day confinement.
  • A stray that appears ill should be euthanized promptly and tested for rabies.
  • A stray that appears healthy may be confined for 4 days to await an owner's claim.  If there is no claim, the animal may be euthanized and tested for rabies.  No testing is required if the stray is healthy after 10 days.   

Be a good pet owner.
1.  Keep vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs, cats, ferrets, horses, cattle, and sheep. In Michigan, dogs and ferrets must be vaccinated for rabies.  Rabies vaccine is also recommended for all cats and any domestic livestock in contact with the public should be vaccinated if a licensed vaccine exists.
2.  There is no post-exposure treatment available for animals and unvaccinated pets and domestic animals that are exposed to a potential rabies carrier and therefore, they may be required to be.
3.  Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted animals that may not be properly cared for or regularly vaccinated.
4.  Keep watch on your pets at all times when enjoying the outdoors to keep them from engaging with a wild animal.  If they get bitten or scratched by a wild animal, contact your vet and the Health Department's Communicable Disease Division (517) 768-1664 or Animal Shelter (517) 788-4464.