If you find yourself near a bat, dead or alive, do not touch it or try to kill it or remove it from your home, the Cook County Department of Public Health warns.
Bats are active at this time of year, and five have been found in the suburbs recently. One was found outside a home in Evergreen Park late last week; others have been found in Tinley Park (two), Arlington Heights and Elgin, according to Evergreen Park Patch.
If you come across a bat, Cook County Department of Public Health chief operating officer Terry Mason, MD, FACS, advises, “Call your local animal control office to collect the bat and call your healthcare provider or local public health department to report the exposure and determine if preventive treatment is needed. If the bat is available for testing and test results are negative, preventive treatment is not needed.”
Bat bites and scratches are so small they may not be seen or felt by the injured person, but it may still transmit rabies.
Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. A person may contract rabies through a bite, scratch, or saliva from an infected animal.
A potential rabies exposure should never be taken lightly. If untreated, rabies is fatal, the department warned in a statement.How to tell is a bat is rabid?
Changes in any animal’s normal behavior can be early signs of rabies, the department said. Bats on the ground, unable to fly, or those which are active during the day are more likely than others to be rabid. Such bats are often easily approached but should never be handled.
Tips to prevent the spread of rabies
• If a bat is in your home, do not release the bat outdoors until after speaking with animal control or public health officials. It may be possible to test the bat and avoid the need to receive rabies treatment.
• If you wake to a bat in the room you may need to be treated if the bat cannot be tested.
• Keep vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs, cats, ferrets and other animals you own. To find low cost Cook County clinics, click here.
• Seek immediate veterinary assistance for your pet if your pet is bitten by a wild animal or exposed to a bat.
• Call your local animal control office about removing stray animals in your neighborhood. Never adopt wild animals, bring them into your home, or try to nurse sick, wild animals to health.
• Do not touch, feed or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
• Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
• Maintain homes and other buildings so bats cannot get inside.
• Call your local animal control office to report a bat in your home or a dead bat on your property.
• Call the Cook County Department of Public Health at 708-633-4000 to report human exposure to a bat.
For more information about rabies visit: www.idph.state.il.us/health/infect/reportdis/rabies.htm.Like Niles-Morton Grove Patch on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
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