IDPH: Watch out for rabid bats
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KFVS) - As warm weather keeps flowing in, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is warning the public of the threat of rabid animals, especially bats, due to their increased activity this time of year.
According to IDPH, there have been four reports of rabid bats in Illinois since May 15. These occurrences have been reported out of Champaign, Jackson, Will and Macon counties.
“While there is a preventive treatment for rabies, it is one of the deadliest diseases we know,” said IDPH Acting Director Amaal Tokars. “Bats are the most common carriers of the rabies virus in Illinois and are responsible for the vast majority of human rabies cases in the United States in recent years. But they are not the only carrier of rabies. The public should be not approach bats or any wild, unfamiliar or stray animal, and any animal that appears to be sick.”
IDPH is stressing that a bite from a rabid animal, if not treated, could be fatal.
The health department is also reminding the public make sure that rabies vaccinations are up-to-date for pets and any valuable livestock and horses for whom a rabies vaccine is available.
If you have been bitten by any animal, IDPH says you should seek immediate medical attention. Rabies preventive treatment, if needed, must begin quickly.
A bat that is active during the day, found on the ground, or is unable to fly is more likely than others to be rabid, according to an IDPH release.
The following tips provided by IDPH 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 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, the bat may need to be captured for rabies testing to determine if you need preventive treatment.
Steps you can take to capture the bat if animal control is not available 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, allowing the bat to breathe.
- Do not come into physical contact with a bat.
For more information about rabies and keeping bats out of your home, visit the IDPH website.
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