ILLINOIS (KFVS) - The Illinois Department of Public Health wants people to beware of rabid animals, including bats, as they become more active this time of year.
According to IDPH, more than a dozen rabid bats have been reported in Illinois so far in 2017.
Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system. People can get rabies after being bitten by an infected animal. Rabies can also be contracted when saliva from a rabid animal gets directly into a person's eyes, nose, mouth or a wound.
The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation and hallucination.
According to IDPH, death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.
If you have been bitten by any animal, seek immediate medical attention.
The following tips can help prevent the spread of rabies:
- Keep vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs, cats, ferrets, and other animals you own. If your pet is exposed to a rabid animal, contact your veterinarian
- 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 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 get inside.
- If a bat is in your home, do not release the bat outdoors until after speaking with animal control or public health officials.
After consulting with animal control or public health officials, you may need to capture the bat for rabies testing to determine if you need preventative treatment.
Steps you can take to capture the bat include:
- 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, allowing the bat to breathe.
For more information about keeping bats out of your home, check out the IDPH Bats and Bat Exclusion page.