The Illinois Department of Public Health is reminding people and their pets to beware of potentially rabid bats as 17 bats have tested positive for rabies in the state so far this year.
“People can receive preventive treatment if they are exposed to an animal infected with rabies,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D. “Although most bats are not infected with rabies, it’s important to avoid handling bats, get and keep your pets vaccinated, and make sure your home has no openings where bats can come in.”
While the number of bats submitted for rabies testing has ranged from 1,300 to 1,700 each year over the past five years, the number testing positive for rabies is typically around three percent. More bats are typically submitted for testing in August and September.
The only way rabies can be diagnosed in a bat is by laboratory testing. Signs that a bat or other animal could have rabies are a general appearance of sickness or a change in the animal’s normal behavior.
Only in instances when a person or pet has been exposed to a bat will the bat need to be tested for rabies.
The IDPH warns people to make sure their pets are vaccinated and not allowed to roam freely. If a wild animal comes on your property, bring children and pets inside. If the animal is acting abnormally, contact animal control.