department warns against handling bats
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[August 22, 2009]
Due to an increase in reported
exposures in the past few weeks, the Logan County Department of
Public Health is urging residents to avoid contact with bats as we
approach the time of year when bats are the most active. Bats are
the primary carrier of rabies in Illinois, but any wild mammal, such
as a raccoon, skunk, fox or coyote, can have rabies and transmit it
to humans. So far in 2009, approximately 40 bats have tested
positive in Illinois.
Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system of humans and
other mammals. Humans get rabies after being bitten, or more rarely
after being scratched, by an infected animal. If infectious material
from a rabid animal, such as saliva, gets directly into the eyes,
nose, mouth or a wound, rabies can result. Without preventive
treatment, rabies is a fatal disease.
Changes in any animal's
normal behavior, such as difficulty walking or an overall appearance
of illness, can be early signs of rabies. For example, rabid skunks,
which normally are nocturnal and avoid contact with people, may
approach humans during daylight hours. A bat that is active during
the day, found in a place where a bat is not usually seen (such as
in a home or on the lawn) or unable to fly is more likely than
others to be rabid. Such bats are often easily approached but should
never be handled.
In Illinois, bats are a protected species and laws limit their
extermination unless located in a residential dwelling. If bats are
found in a residence and it is suspected that people or pets may
have been bitten or exposed to infectious materials, contact Logan
County Animal Control at 217-735-3232 to remove the bats. Bats
collected by or submitted to Logan County Animal Control can be
tested for rabies.
If bats cannot be collected or tested, people in the home should
contact their primary care physician or the Logan County Department
of Public Health at 217-735-2317 to determine if they meet the
qualifications for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis.
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The following tips can help prevent the spread of rabies:
Be a responsible
pet owner. Keep vaccinations up to date for all dogs, cats and
assistance for your pet immediately if your pet is bitten by a
wild animal or exposed to a bat.
Call the local
animal control agency to remove stray animals in your
Do not handle,
feed or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage
cans or litter.
Never adopt wild
animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick
animals to health. Call animal control or an animal rescue
agency for assistance.
Teach children never to handle
unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear
friendly. To reduce the risk of exposure to rabid animals, "Love
your own, leave other animals alone" is a good principle for
children to learn.
Information about bats and bat exclusion is available at
Information about rabies is available at
[Text from file received from
Logan County Department
of Public Health]