1st rabid bat of the year found already
weather means earlier bat activity
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[April 04, 2012]
SPRINGFIELD -- With temperatures in
Illinois already in the 70s and 80s, bats are becoming active, which
means the possibility of exposure to rabies is increasing. Bats are
the primary carrier of rabies in Illinois. The Illinois Department
of Public Health has already had one bat test positive for rabies,
and two people are undergoing post-exposure treatment after coming
into contact with that rabid bat.
"Bats are already active this year due to the early warm
temperatures," said Dr. Connie Austin, state public health
veterinarian. "It's important to remember that you should never try
to approach or catch a bat, or any wild animal, you find outside.
Instead, call your local animal control agency for its
In 2011, 49 bats and one cow tested positive for
rabies in Illinois. Any wild mammal, such as a raccoon, skunk, fox,
coyote or bat, can have rabies and transmit it to humans.
Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system of humans and
other mammals. Humans can get rabies after being bitten by an
infected animal. Rabies can also be contracted when saliva from a
rabid animal gets directly into a person's eyes, nose, mouth or a
wound. People usually know when they have been bitten by a bat, but
bats have very small teeth and the bite mark may not be easy to see.
If you find yourself in close proximity to a bat and are not sure
if you were exposed -- for example, if you wake up and find a bat in
your room -- do not kill or release the bat before calling your
doctor or local health department to help determine if you could
have been exposed to rabies and need preventive treatment.
Without preventive treatment, rabies is a fatal disease. If you
have been bitten or have had direct contact with a bat, seek
immediate medical attention. Treatment with rabies immune globulin
and a vaccine series must begin immediately.
An animal does not have to be aggressive or exhibit other
symptoms to have rabies. 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, skunks are normally nocturnal
and avoid contact with people, but a rabid skunk may approach humans
during daylight hours. A bat that is active during the day, found on
the ground or unable to fly is more likely than others to be rabid.
Such bats are often easily approached, but should never be handled.
The following tips can help prevent the spread of rabies:
Be a responsible
animal owner. Keep vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs, cats,
ferrets and other animals you own.
veterinary assistance for your pet if your pet is bitten by a
wild animal or exposed to a bat.
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Call the local
animal control agency about removing 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,
wild animals to health. Call animal control or an animal rescue
agency for assistance.
never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if
they appear friendly. "Love your own, leave other animals alone"
is a good principle for children to learn to reduce the risk of
exposures to rabid animals.
Maintain homes and
other buildings so bats cannot gain entry.
If a bat is in
your home, do not release the bat outdoors until after speaking
with animal control or public health officials. If you can do it
without putting yourself at risk for physical contact or being
bitten, try to cover the bat with a large can or bucket, and
close the door to the room.
Information about keeping bats out of your home or buildings is
Information about rabies is available at
Illinois Department of Public Health
file received from the
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]