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Posted on Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 2:59 p.m.

Rabid bat found in Old West Side home in Ann Arbor

By Juliana Keeping

A family of four is receiving treatment for rabies after finding a bat in their Ann Arbor home on Aug. 3.

It's not clear if two adults and two children who live at the Old West Side home in Ann Arbor were bitten, said Angela Parsons, an environmental health educator for the Washtenaw County Health Department.


This file photo of a juvenile evening bat was taken by Eastern Michigan University biology professor Allen Kurta. Thursday, the third bat found in an Ann Arbor residence and turned into the Health Department tested positive for rabies.

Photo courtesy of Allen Kurta

The family left the home after noticing the bat flying there Aug. 3. They returned Aug. 7 and found the bat dead before turning it in to the Health Department.

A rabies test on the bat came back positive on Thursday, Parsons said.

When a bat is found in sleeping quarters and it isn’t clear whether people have had contact with it, the department will recommend treatment for rabies, Parsons said.

The regimen includes doses of immune globulin and four doses of rabies vaccine over two weeks. Treatment also might be needed if the animal can’t be found but exposure is a possibility.

It's the third bat turned into the Health Department that has tested positive for rabies this year, Parsons said.

In 2010, two bats tested positive for rabies in Washtenaw County. In 2009, no bats were found with rabies, and in 2008, two bats tested positive.

Three rabies-positive bats isn't an unusually high number for the season, but it's a good reminder people should take precautions when they find a bat at home, Parsons said.

Other rabies-positive bat scenarios this year have included:

Juliana Keeping covers general assignment and health and the environment for Reach her at or 734-623-2528. Follow Juliana Keeping on Twitter



Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 3:18 a.m.

The photo accompanying the article should be removed or captioned: "Never do this. Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of rabid animals and may be transmitted by handling rabid animals. Do not handle any bat. " This kind of journalism with some sort of "stock" photo is dangerous as it models dangerous behavior.

John B.

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

@BJ: Not ,many jackals around here (well, outside of politics, anyways).


Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 4:52 p.m.

Thank you John. You are correct. I was thinking about the fox I used to see often at Parker Mill and described it as a jackal. Jackals are native to India and people think that they are clever, intelligent, and often very cunning in nature.


Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 4 p.m.

Kindly check Washtenaw County Parks or call 734-971-6337. I have regularly spotted a jackal at Parker Mill Park at 4650 Geddes Road.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 4:01 p.m.

It appears that the Vampire bats have started slowly migrating to United States and the first fatality due to rabies follwing a bite is reported in yesterday's news. In India, we had lived with bats and there were no reported findings of rabid bats. The rabies infection is mostly transmitted by infected dogs, foxes, and jackals. There is an animal reservoir of rabies virus, mostly the canine population. This is the third time we are reading a report about rabies infected bat. Kindly ask and tell us about the source of this infection. How do these bats get infected? What is the animal reservoir of this infection found in bats? The incidence of rabies infection among humans is very low. It is not economical to vaccinate the entire population. It is recommended to people who are at a higher risk of exposure. It is not easy to catch bats and test them to verify their status. If the bat is rabid, it generally dies on account of this infection and may not return to the same home a second time. The infection is fatal in animals and a few animals which serve as host reservoir are naturally immune and may not die of rabies infection.


Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 4:21 p.m.

Thanks for sharing the link. It appears that bats act as the temporary reservoir of rabies virus and they get infected and die because of this infection. Bats are insectivorous and may not interact with other animals like raccoons, skunks, and foxes which also act as temporary reservoir of rabies. However, they are describing different and distinct strains of rabies virus in all these terrestrial animals. Bats get their distinct strain of rabies virus. I could not find the source of this virus strain and as to how it is transmitted to bat population which feed upon insects. The vampire bats may contact other mammals may get infected or transmit rabies virus to them.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 7:12 p.m.

This link should answer your questions: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 3:53 p.m.

A few summers ago, my husband &amp; I looked up and saw a bat flying in circles above our bed. The tiny bat was flying with the slowly turning ceiling fan blades. I just left the room while my husband got the bat out somehow- I believe I would have known if I was bitten (it's worse than a mosquito bite, yes?) so we didn't pursue rabies shots.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 8:46 p.m.

Exact scenario happened to me too! I didn't ever pursue shots, but that's only b/c I didn't realize at the time that was the recommendation. The problem with rabies is that it can take some time to get any symptoms and then you are Dead. No treatment. So in hindsight, I should have gotten shots and would encourage others to do so if they find themselves living with a bat.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Carol Akerlof

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 1:17 p.m.

In Michigan rabies is usually found in bats and skunks. Most people give these a wide berth! Your outdoor cat, however, will find a bat on the ground or flying poorly to be fascinating. To protect your family and children please make sure that your pets and the pet animals in your neighborhood are current on their rabies vaccinations. It would be sensible for Washtenaw County to require cats to be vaccinated for rabies. The Bird Center is deluged every spring and summer with cat caught birds. These same outdoor cats may catch and play with a rabid bat.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 4:54 a.m.

We had two bats get into our basement when I was a kid, mid 1990s? We got them a bat house to try and catch them in there, but that failed. They somehow managed to get into a disused terrarium we kept down there and we just threw a blanket over it, took it up stairs and let them go. No one got bit. We didn't even think about rabies. They were so cute.

Old Salt

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 12:48 a.m.

It would be nice if we knew the approximate area,where the bat was found,perhaps just the nearest streets

John B.

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 8:47 p.m.

..and that would serve what purpose, exactly, hmmmm? Bats are everywhere. Look, there's one right behind you! Too late....

John B.

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 12:27 a.m.

We're back to the bat story: same bat-time, same bat-channel! Holy rabies shots, Batman!

Urban Sombrero

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 12:05 a.m.

I really like bats. I think they're incredibly cool looking, good for getting rid of bugs and just overall neat thing. But the whole rabies thing puts me off. My question is this (and, this applies to squirrels, etc that may bite you) can you be sure to catch it? I mean, they're awful quick little buggers. That's what freaks me out about squirrels. And, let's say you do catch one. How can you be sure it's the exact one that's bitten you? Unless you have super-human reflexes and can grab it immediately, you may have to go through that shot regimen just because. Even if the one that bit you does not have rabies. I mean, you'd want to get the shots just to be sure, right? Sorry if I sound like I'm rambling, but this has honestly crossed my mind several times before. (I live in an area with a lot of pretty friendly squirrels and I'm very leery about them, regardless.)


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 8:44 p.m.

My friend was bitten by a squirrel. He held out a peanut and the squirrel bit his thumb. And that squirrel hung on; my friend had to shake and shake to get the darn thing off. The ED (where he sheepishly went afterwards) actually said squirrels (at least the A2 variety) don't tend to carry rabies so he didn't need the shots. Just a tetanus booster.

Urban Sombrero

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 1:25 a.m.

And, for the record, that squirrel had to outweigh my dog by at least a pound or two. No joke.

Urban Sombrero

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 1:24 a.m.

@treetowncartel: What about the squirrel that tried to eat my chihuahua, when she barked at it? lol


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 12:58 a.m.

If a squirrel comes up to you to bite you, and you are not trying to feed it by hand, it probably is rabid.

Urban Sombrero

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 12:06 a.m.

ahem...neat thingS. I need to proofread before hitting &quot;reply&quot;.


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 11:30 p.m.

I hope that the city files charges against these people on cruelty to animals charges. These west side Historic homes and families have to learn how to conform (yes, conform in Liberal Ann Arbor).


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 11:12 p.m.

Seems really unfortunate that in a story specifically about how bats in this area may be carrying rabies, there would be a picture of a person holding a bat in their bare hands as part of the story. There is a link to an article from the WCHD that states that gloves should always be worn when handling bats, but, well. I love bats, just advocating for safe precautions. Something like the bucket/record album combo trick is the best way to go for sure when there has been a potential exposure - no handling at all that way.


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 8:30 p.m.

The Historic District Commission should be consulted to see if this Old West Side family is even permitted to get rabies shots.


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 10:43 p.m.

Yeah! I agree! If the homes in this district don't all have bats...wouldn't the homeowner WITH bats be fined?! LOL


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 9:40 p.m.

Funniest thing I have read all week. Thanks for starting my weekend off with a laugh.

Homeland Conspiracy

Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 9:19 p.m.

Very funny


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 9:04 p.m.

yes, it is funny


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 8:46 p.m.

This is not funny.


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 8:29 p.m.

If your bat looks at me with its beady little eyes, I will end your bat.

Jimmy McNulty

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 1:02 p.m.

Keep your bat on a leash. A short one.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 12:58 p.m.

Howard Dean's crazy laugh, Juliana's &quot;I will end ..&quot;, they live in infamy


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 12:56 a.m.

That is getting a little worn out. Maybe, you are to busy tweeting about your new volt to notice that.

Urban Sombrero

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 12:15 a.m.

**snort!!** Awesome.

Jack Gladney

Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 11:11 p.m.

It's funny how the &quot;Scary Dog Story&quot; has become's &quot;These pretzels are making me thirsty!&quot; Probably not their intent, but good for a laugh.


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 8:20 p.m.

Good year for mosquitoes. Bats eat mosquitoes. Lot's of well fed bats out there - I've seen plenty flying up, down and over streets at dusk. One of the favorite games when I was a kid consisted of waiting 'til the bats started flying after sunset and then throwing small pieces of wood (about adult thumb size) as high as we could. The bats sonar seemed to fool them into chasing the little sticks. Small stones didn't fool the bats. We learned that bats can go into a vertical dive in pursuit of their (imagined) prey and still pull out in a high G swoop before hitting the ground. We also learned: that bats would come a-flying to snatch the mosquitoes and other insects which buzzed around our heads, giving us a close-up view and sometimes a quick caress of their wings as they flitted by. My only experience with touching a bat came about 4 years ago when one got trapped in the utility room on my floor (of an apartment building). I got a pillow case, threw it over the bat and carried it (accompanied by bat screams) down in the elevator to the ground floor (and outside) where I released it. Of course you can't actually hear the bat screams but they are loud enough in close quarters to vibrate your ear drums. That surprised me.


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 10:41 p.m.

We have caught and released many bats over the years...However, bats will usually return to the last place they roosted...and SO...we may have been catching the same bats over and over and...


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 9:11 p.m.

oh, I have heard a bat scream and make that chittering/hissing noise, totally creepy, of course the few times I had a close call with a bat I screamed and I have heard grown manly men scream like little girls b/c of bats.


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 8:04 p.m.

Can anyone answer why humans are just routinely vaccinated for rabies like other illnesses?


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 9:46 p.m.

The most common form of preventive rabies vaccine is duck-embryo based and can cause severe, even fatal, shock reactions in some. The better/safer one is based on human fetal lots of luck getting that with a loud teaparty segment in congress and in the electorate. I got mine in France. and I've had both in connection with research trips to places rife with rabies.


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 8:05 p.m.

Sorry, &quot;are not.&quot;


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 7:58 p.m.

If im not mistaken the bat shown in the article lead on the homepage lead is a vampire bat...which is a tropic/more southerly species. And they are not commonly rabid either, as i know from living , during a research stint, for 2 months in a building in the tropics whose ceiling was a nesting place for them ( a mosquito net reduced the poop fall- out and the biting).


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 9:41 p.m.

The original homepage photo now seems to be gone and a more appropriate one from the article is in its place ... the older one on the hompage showed a vampire bat or maybe a leafnose bat...neither found anywhere near here..


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 8:59 p.m.

I think you are mistaken. The caption identifies the bat as a juvenile evening bat. It does not much resemble a vampire bat at all, but it looks an awful lot like an evening bat.


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 7:50 p.m.

I have lots of good bat stories buy me a beer and I'll tell you one. I lived in a house full of them and probably got bitten tons of times in my sleep but I turned out ok. I think.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 11:26 a.m.

PRIUS?!?! That gas guzzler? My car runs on my own sense of self-satisfaction.

John B.

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 12:22 a.m.

That explains a lot.... ;-) How's your Prius running these days, by the way?

Deb Burch

Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 7:36 p.m.

julieswhimsies, I had a similar experience. I wacked the one that bit me with a broom, but it only stunned it. I covered it with a can and stacked books on top of it. It was hard to find someone to pick it up.


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 10:36 p.m.

Yeah. I know! Everyone I've called to pick up bats (We've had many in our house over the years) claim that it is some other agency's responsibility. Even the HSHV guy said that &quot;technically&quot; he was not supposed to pick up bats...but did it only because he had no other calls...


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 7:24 p.m.

I was bitten by a bat last year. It was hiding in a little tiny box that I was absent-mindedly foldin for re-cycling. After the initial freak-out, I managed to throw a wastebasket (which was clear) over the bat. It was, of course, a Saturday afternoon...when no one in the county was available to take the bat to be tested. I was told I would have to refrigerate the bat until Yeah. I finally got a guy from HSHV to come retrieve the bat. By the time he got here, my daughter and I had named it Hildegarde, and were feeling guilty about the fact that it was headed off to be decapitated. Luckily, it was not rabid...but it was a hairy week as we waited for the test results. It was not rabid.


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 10:38 p.m.

@A2 mommy. I'm a little slow on the uptake tonight. Funny!


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 10:33 p.m.

@annarbormommy...The bats are decapitated in order to be tested for rabies.


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 10:32 p.m.

I have retold that story many times over the past yer, ;P


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 8:44 p.m.

&quot;headed off to be decapitated&quot; :)


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 7:27 p.m.

That's a great story. ha!