First rabid canine in 10 years detected in Michigan

LANSING, MI – For the first time in a decade, a dog from Michigan tested positive for rabies.

A 6-month-old dog in Detroit recently tested positive for the disease, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). The dog had never been vaccinated against rabies.

Tests to determine the rabies strain of the infected dog are still ongoing, according to a press release released on Friday May 21. Prior to this case, the last dog in the state to test positive for rabies was in Oakland County in 2011.

Both MDHHS and MDARD encourage Michigan residents to get their mammals vaccinated against the deadly virus.

While any mammal can be infected with rabies, in Michigan it is typically carried by skunks or bats.

“The rabies virus is present in the saliva and brain tissue of an infected animal,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy for Health. “People can be exposed to rabies if they are bitten by a rabid animal. Other possible routes of exposure are infectious material in the eyes, nose, or mouth, or fresh cuts in the skin. Make sure pets are vaccinated and avoid contact with stray or wild animals to reduce the risk of exposure to this potentially fatal disease. “

State agencies are working closely with the Detroit City Health Department to take all necessary precautions.

“We are taking proactive steps to ensure the safety of residents and their families,” said Denise Fair, chief public health officer for the Detroit Health Department. “We will have teams going door-to-door in the area to educate and educate residents about the importance of having their pet vaccinated. We will also look for other injured or sick animals. “

The rabid dog’s family reported that there had recently been a late night argument with another animal in their yard. Individuals who came into close contact with the infected dog were referred to health care providers so that their need for post-exposure prophylactic treatment (PEP) can be assessed. In combination with immediate wound cleansing, appropriately administered rabies PEP is consistently effective in preventing rabies in exposed people, according to state officials.

State law requires dogs and ferrets to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. It is also important to ensure that cats, including those kept indoors, are vaccinated against rabies.

“Animal and pet owners should contact their veterinarian about vaccinating animals against rabies,” said Dr. Nora Wineland, state veterinarian. “Although the full extent of the disease in Michigan’s skunks and bats is unknown, it is important to understand that rabies is out there. Vaccinating animals and avoiding contact with wildlife help limit the spread of the disease. “

So far in 2021 Michigan there have been seven confirmed rabid animals: this dog and six bats. The bats have been identified in the counties of Clinton, Ingham, Kent, Midland, Oakland and Ottawa.

For more information on rabies, visit Michigan.gov/emergingdiseases.

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