Illinois residents are being encouraged to be alert for rabid animals, including bats, this summer.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is issuing the warning as people become more active outdoors this time of year. To date, more than a dozen rabid bats have been reported in Illinois in 2017. The vast majority of cases of rabies in Illinois are found in bats.
“You can’t tell just by looking at a bat if it has rabies so it’s important to avoid handling bats and to make sure your home has no openings where bats can come in,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D.
Rabies is a deadly virus that affects the nervous system. People can get infected after being bitten by an infected animal, or when salvia from a rabid animal gets directly in a person’s eyes, nose, mouth or wound.
Early symptoms of rabies include fever, headache and general weakness and discomfort. As it progresses, additional symptoms appear including insomnia, anxiety, confusion, paralysis, excitement and hallucinations. Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.
If you have been bitten by an animal, seek immediate medical attention. Rabies preventative treatment, if needed, must begin quickly.