Updated February 24, 2023
Any animal can bite or scratch – even the most gentle, trusted animals. Animals
can bite or scratch when they're scared, sick, defending food or toys,
or startled – accidents happen! Scratches and bites from animals can cause
injury and they can spread germs that lead to infection, even if the
wound doesn't seem serious.
Animal bites and scratches can also spread rabies. Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the
nervous system and brain. If a person does not receive the appropriate medical care after a potential exposure to rabies, the virus can infect the brain and result in death. In Michigan, rabies most commonly occurs in bats. Other common sources of rabies in the U.S. include wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, and foxes.
While most animals that bite will not have rabies, proper precautions and follow-up can limit severe outcomes. Livingston County Health Department (LCHD) investigates bites, scratches, and rabies exposures to ensure that this fatal disease does not spread.
Did you know? Bats are the most common source of rabies in Michigan. Read below to learn what to do if you find a bat in your home.