Wed August 3, 2011
DUPAGE COUNTY-With the summer heat continuing, the DuPage County Health Department is warning county residents to avoid contact with bats as they are very active during this time of year. It's important to remember that you should never try to approach or catch a bat, or any wild animal, especially in your home.
Bats are the primary carriers of rabies in Illinois. You cannot tell by looking at a bat if it is rabid. The animal does not have to be aggressive or exhibit other symptoms to have rabies. Any wild mammal, such as a raccoon, skunk, fox, coyote or bat, can have rabies and transmit it to humans.
Changes in any animal's normal behavior, such as difficulty walking or an overall appearance of illness, can be early signs of rabies. A bat that is active during the day, found on the ground and unable to fly, is more likely to be rabid. Such bats should never be handled.
Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. Humans can get rabies after being bitten by an infected animal. Rabies can also be contracted when saliva from a rabid animal gets directly into the eyes, nose, mouth or a wound. Without preventive treatment, rabies is a fatal disease. If you have been bitten or exposed to a bat, seek immediate medical attention. Bat bites may not be felt while sleeping, and special consideration needs to be taken when a bat is found in a child's room or in a disabled person's living area. Treatment with rabies immune globulin and a vaccine series must begin immediately.
The Health Department did not report any human cases of rabies in 2010, but did report 54 potential exposures to rabies.
The following tips can help prevent the spread of rabies:
All animal bites to humans that occur in DuPage County must be reported to DuPage County Animal Care and Control at (630) 407-2800. All potential rabies exposures must be reported to the DuPage County Health Department at (630) 682-7979, ext. 7553.
For more information on the DuPage County Health Department, follow us on Twitter @DuPageHD or become a fan on Facebook.
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