DeKalb County Health Department officials remind residents that bats are active this time of year, which means the possibility of exposure to rabies is increasing. Bats are the primary carriers of rabies in Illinois. You cannot tell by looking at a bat if it is rabid. Changes in any animal’s normal behavior, such as difficulty walking or an overall appearance of illness, can be early signs of rabies. A bat that is active during the day, found on the ground and unable to fly, is likely to be rabid. Such bats should never be handled.
Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. A person may contract rabies through a bite, scratch, or saliva from an infected animal. A bat bite or scratch may not be seen or even felt by the injured person due to the small size of its teeth and claws. A potential rabies exposure should never be taken lightly. If untreated, rabies is fatal. Preventive treatment with rabies immune globulin and a vaccine series must begin immediately.
The following tips can help prevent the spread of rabies:
- Be a responsible pet owner. Keep vaccinations up-to- date for all pets (indoor/outdoor).
- If a bat is in your home, do not release the bat outdoors until after speaking withanimal control or public health officials. If you are able to do so without putting yourself at risk for physical (more) contact or being bitten, try to cover the bat with a large can or bucket, and close the door to the room.
- Seek immediate veterinary assistance if your pet is bitten by a wild animal or exposed to a bat.
- Do not handle, feed or 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 to reduce the risk of exposures to rabid animals.
- Maintain homes and other buildings so bats cannot gain entry
- All animal bites to humans that occur in DeKalb County must be reported to: DeKalb County Animal Control at (815) 748-2427.
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