"In the last several years there
have been an above-average number of rabies cases in bats in
Illinois," Dr. Arnold said. "We've already received numerous phone
calls this summer about people being exposed to bats. It's important
to remember that you should never try to approach or catch a bat in
your home. Instead, call your local animal control agency for their
In 2008, 103 bats tested positive for rabies in
Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system of humans and
other mammals. Humans get rabies after being bitten 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.
"You cannot tell by looking at a bat if it is rabid. The animal
does not have to be foaming at the mouth or be exhibiting other
symptoms to have rabies," said Connie Austin, state public health
veterinarian. "Any wild mammal, such as a raccoon, skunk,
fox, coyote or bat, can have rabies and transmit it to humans."
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 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.
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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. "Love your own, leave other animals alone" is a good
principle for children to learn in order to reduce the risk of
exposure to rabid animals.
Information about excluding bats is available at
Information about rabies is available at
Illinois Department of Public Health
file received from the
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]