IDPH urges safety among wild animals, rabid bats found in Cook and Will counties

Daniel is quick to point out that it's illegal in Illinois to keep bats and skunks as pets. The Petersons are insured as well as licensed by the USDA as Class C Exhibitors, he said, the same reason why they are able to own skunks.

The Illinois Department of Public Health sent out a warning to the public to beware of wild animals that may carry rabies, especially bats, following the discovery of the first two rabid bats in Illinois since May 10, found in Cook and Will counties.

“Rabies is a fatal but preventable disease,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra, in a news release from the IDPH. “It is important that Illinois residents know how to prevent rabies exposure to protect themselves and their loved ones. Bats are the most common carriers of the rabies virus in Illinois, but not the only carrier[s]. Illinois residents should stay away from bats and any wild, unfamiliar, or stray animal, as well as any animal that appears to be sick. Groups of bats can move into people’s homes and that underscores the importance of knowing the ways of keeping bats out of your home.”

Public health officials stress that if a bat is found inside a home, it is important to try and cover it with a container and contact animal control so it can be tested for rabies, according to the release.

IDPH reminds the public to make sure rabies vaccinations are up to date for pets, livestock, and horses, for which a rabies vaccine is available. If a pet is exposed to a high-risk wild animal, a veterinarian should immediately be contacted, according to the release.

Rabies can be contracted when the saliva of infected animals enters an individual’s eyes, nose, mouth, or wound, so if a person is bitten by any animal, immediate medical attention should be sought, according to the release.

Bat bites may not always be easily identifiable given their small teeth, so if exposed to a bat, individuals should contact a doctor or their local health department to get it tested to see if preventative treatment is needed, according to the release.

An animal does not have to be aggressive or exhibit other symptoms to have rabies. Changes in any animal’s normal behavior can be early signs of rabies, particularly within bats, according to the release.

The following tips can help prevent the spread of rabies:

• Do not touch, feed, or unintentionally 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, wild animals to health. Call animal control or an animal rescue agency for assistance.

• Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic.

• Maintain homes and other buildings so bats cannot get inside.

• If a bat is in a home, do not release the bat outdoors until after speaking with animal control or public health officials.

• After consulting animal control or public health officials, the bat may need to be captured for rabies testing to determine if preventive treatment is needed.

Steps to capture a bat are:

• When the bat lands, approach it slowly while wearing gloves, and place a box or coffee can over it.

• Slide a piece of cardboard under the container to trap the bat inside.

• Tape the cardboard to the container securely, and punch small holes in the cardboard to allow the bat to breathe.

Shaw Local News Network

Shaw Local News Network

Shaw Local News Network provides local news throughout northern Illinois