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Several people treated for rabies in Ionia County

Flickr User Noel Reynolds

The Ionia County Health Department confirmed several people are being treated for rabies after handling a rabid bat.

The Ionia County Health Department issued a release Monday that said a rabid bat was found outside a residence in Portland on East Grand Avenue on June 6.

The people who found the sick bat attempted to feed it and nurse it back to health. A total of four were exposed to the rabies virus, either by being bitten or by touching the bat with bare hands. All are receiving four injections of the rabies vaccine over a two-week period.

Rabies is a deadly disease that attacks the nervous system. Bats are the most common carriers of the disease, but many other animals can carry it.

Chris Simon is the communicable diseases nurse at Ionia County Health Department. She says if you see wild animal or a dog or cat that’s not acting right or is acting ill, call animal control.

“If you’re exposed to a bat, call your local health department and they can arrange for testing. And for gosh sakes please everybody get their pets vaccinated for rabies. Including cats. Now dogs, you have to get your dogs vaccinated for rabies because it’s required for licensing.”

Simon says this is the 13th rabid bat in Michigan so far this season.