Health Department warns residents to beware of bats
Updated: September 17, 2012 6:07AM
WHEATON — Bats are active this time of year, and that activity brings the risk of rabies.
The DuPage County Health Department is reminding residents about several precautions they should take if they find a bat in their home or if they come in contact with a bat.
People should never try to approach or catch a bat, or any wild animal, especially at home, department officials said.
The Health Department offers these suggestions regarding bats:
Call the police or the village’s animal control to remove the bat. All animal bites to humans, including bats, must be reported to DuPage County Animal Care and Control at 630-407-2800.
Call the DuPage County Health Department at 630-221-7553 after finding a bat in your home or you feel you possibly had contact with a bat. It is important to promptly review the situation to determine if bat testing and rabies preventive treatment are indicated.
If your home has bats, visit http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/pcbats.htm for information on removing bats. A list of wildlife control specialists, who may be familiar with bat removal procedures, can be obtained by calling the Illinois Department of Natural Resources at 217-782-6384.
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, department officials said.
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, according to the department.
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 also needs to be taken when a bat is found in a child’s room or in a disabled person’s living area. Preventive treatment with rabies immune globulin and a vaccine series must begin immediately, Health Department officials said.