HEALTH DEPARTMENT REPORTS RABID BAT
WOODSTOCK IL – A bat that tested positive for rabies was recently found at a home in the City of McHenry. No human exposure was reported, although potential exposure to a dog found playing with the bat is being taken into consideration. Keeping pets (even those who stay indoors) up to date with vaccinations will not only keep them from getting rabies but also provide a barrier of protection for people if a rabid animal bites a pet.
“Never touch a bat with bare hands. Using a shovel or plastic bag ensures no direct contact. If a bat is found inside, contain it in a room by closing the door. If you find a bat outside and think there has been exposure to a person or pet or if the bat is injured, place an upside down bucket over the bat if possible.” said Maryellen Howell, Manager of McHenry County Department of Health’s Veterinary Public Health Division. Call Animal Control immediately (815-459-6222) if you, a family member, or a pet has had direct contact with a bat. To test bats for rabies, it is important the bat be in good condition (i.e. head is intact) and either alive or recently deceased.
Rabies is a fatal disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system and can only be confirmed by laboratory testing. The best way to avoid rabies is to avoid exposure. People should take a “hands off” approach to all wild animals to reduce their risk of exposure. Children should also be educated to avoid handling wild animals. Bats are a protected species and part of the natural habitat.
If you have questions about exposure, call MCDH’s Communicable Disease Program at 815-334- 4500. To learn more about rabies prevention, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/.