State urging residents to vaccinate pets after Detroit dog tests positive for rabies

First in state since 2011
Posted at 4:59 PM, May 21, 2021

DETROIT (WXYZ) — A six-month-old dog in the City of Detroit tested positive for rabies, the first in the state since 2011.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging Michigan residents to have their pets and animals vaccinated. The infected dog had never received a vaccine, state officials say.

While any mammal can be infected with rabies, the virus is typically carried by skunks or bats in Michigan. The state says testing to determine the strain of rabies in the infected dog is still taking place.

“Rabies virus is present in the saliva and brain tissue of an infected animal,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for MDHHS, in a press release. “People can be exposed to rabies when they are bitten by a rabid animal. Other possible routes for exposure include getting infectious material in your eyes, nose, or mouth or on fresh cuts in the skin. Make sure pets are vaccinated and avoid contact with stray or wild animals to reduce your risk of exposure to this potentially fatal disease."

The state is working closely with the City of Detroit Health Department to take all necessary precautions.

"We are taking proactive steps to keep residents and their families safe,” said Detroit Health Department's chief public health officer Denise Fair. "We will have teams going door-to-door in the area to inform residents and educate on the importance of getting their family pet vaccinated. We will also be canvassing for any other injured or sick animals."

The family of the rabid dog reported that it recently had an altercation with another animal in their yard during the night. Individuals who came in close contact with the infected dog have been referred to healthcare providers.

State law requires that dogs and ferrets be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. It is also important to make sure cats, even those kept strictly indoors, be vaccinated against rabies.

In 2021, a total of seven rabid animals, including this dog, have been detected in Michigan. The other cases include six bats: one each from Clinton, Ingham, Kent, Midland, Oakland, and Ottawa counties.