Avoid Bats to Protect Yourself from Rabies
The Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center is warning residents to avoid possible exposure to rabies by avoiding contact with bats, especially in your home. So far in 2018, the Health Department has submitted 35 bats for testing, of which two tested positive for rabies: one in Libertyville and one in Gurnee.
"Bats are encountered frequently during the fall because of their migration and search for winter quarters in places like attics," said Mark Pfister, Executive Director of the Lake County Health Department. "Bats can carry rabies, so never touch them or attempt to remove them from your home."
Take preventative steps to protect yourself, your family, and pets from bats and rabies:
• Do not touch bats or attempt to remove them from your home. Report bats to Animal Care and Control by calling (847) 377-4700.
• Do not feed, touch, or adopt wild animals or stray dogs and cats. Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, even if they appear friendly.
• Vaccinate your pets and do not allow them to roam free. If bitten by a rabid bat, pets may develop rabies and present a risk to humans.
• Safeguard your home. Bats can enter existing holes as small as 3/4 inch in diameter. Cover and seal possible access routes, especially around chimneys, vents, doors, windows, and plumbing.
• Seek immediate medical attention if you have been bitten or exposed to a bat.
In 2017, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported that 3 percent of all bats received for rabies testing in Illinois returned positive. Bats are generally not a threat and are highly beneficial animals as they feed exclusively on insects.
The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, causing disease in the brain and eventually, death. Early symptoms of rabies in people include fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear, including insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation, difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia. Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.
If anyone in your family has direct contact with a bat or notices a bat acting in an unusual manner, such as flying in daylight or lying on the ground or in your home, contact Animal Care and Control immediately at (847) 377-4700. A trained animal warden will remove the bat at no cost, and the Health Department may submit the bat for rabies testing. The Health Department may refer callers to bat exclusion companies and provide information on methods for excluding bats.
For more information, visit: http://www.lakecountyil.gov/858/Rabies.
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