State public health director warns people to avoid contact with bats
people already reporting exposure to bats
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[August 27, 2012]
SPRINGFIELD -- Dr. LaMar
Hasbrouck, state public health director, is reminding people to
avoid contact with bats, as this is the time of year when bats are
the most active and health officials see the most bat exposures.
"The Illinois Department of Public Health and local health
departments throughout the state have already received numerous
phone calls this summer about people being exposed to bats,"
Hasbrouck said. "It is best never to approach a bat and, if found in
a home or building, people should leave the bat alone and call their
local public health department or their animal control office for
assistance or instructions about removing it."
Bats are the
primary carrier of rabies in Illinois. Already this year, 52 bats in
24 counties have already tested positive for rabies. A total of 51
bats in Illinois tested positive for rabies in 2011.
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 personís eyes, nose, mouth or a
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.
Any wild mammal, such as a raccoon, skunk, fox, coyote or bat,
can have rabies and transmit it to humans. An animal does not have
to be aggressive or exhibit other symptoms to have rabies. Changes
in any animalís 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.
"Children should be warned against petting or trying to assist a
wild or unfamiliar animal. While our natural instinct may be to help
or befriend bats or other animals that appear friendly or are
injured, these animals can carry rabies and should be avoided," said
Connie Austin, state public health veterinarian.
The following tips can help prevent
the spread of rabies:
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Keep pets under
direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild
animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal or exposed to a
bat, seek veterinary assistance for your pet immediately.
Call the local
health department or animal control agency to remove stray
animals in your neighborhood.
contact with unfamiliar animals. Do not handle, feed or
unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or
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.
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.
Prevent bats from entering living
quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools and
other similar areas where they might come in contact with people
Information about preventing bats from entering a building is
For more information about rabies, visit the Illinois Department
of Public Health website at
Department of Public Health file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]