Michigan officials confirm first 2017 cases of rabies, West Nile virus

May 19, 2017

The first cases of rabies and West Nile virus were confirmed by state officials this week. Three birds and a bat were discovered to have the diseases, which can be harmful to humans.

On Thursday, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced that an Ingham county big brown bat had tested positive for rabies, the first confirmed case of 2017. 41 cases were confirmed in 2016.

Rabies cases typically start showing up this time of year, especially in skunks and bats, and can be spread through a bite or scratch. Officials urge that pets and livestock be vaccinated. It is important to avoid wild animals, and to seek medical attention immediately if bitten or scratched.

And on Friday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human services confirmed the first cases of West Nile virus in three birds, which were already sick or dead. The birds were found in Barry, Kalamazoo, and Saginaw counties.

West Nile is most commonly transmitted to humans through mosquito bites, and can lead to symptoms such as fever and sever headache. More serious complications include neurological illnesses such as meningitis.

There were 3 deaths and 43 serious illnesses related to the virus in 2016.