Rabies Warning Involves Lee and DeKalb Counties

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The Illinois Department of Public Health says the horse was in LaSalle County and 11 people who came into contact with it have been given preventative treatment.

The last human case of rabies in Illinois was in 1954, but 50 bats have tested positive for the disease this year. The horse is the only animal other than bats to be diagnosed with rabies since 1998.

State veterinarian Connie Austin says Illinoisans should stay away from wild animals and vaccinate their pets.

The state's Natural Resources Department plans to test skunks in LaSalle, Lee and DeKalb Counties for the virus.

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What is Rabies?

  • Rabies virus causes an acute encephalitis in all warm-blooded animals.

  • All mammals are susceptible to the rabies virus.

  • The animals most known for carrying the virus include: raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes.

Transmission of Rabies

  • Transmission of rabies virus usually begins when the infected saliva of a host is passed to an uninfected animal.

  • Various routes of transmission include the eyes, nose, mouth, aerosol transmission, and corneal transplantations.

Symptoms of Rabies

  • First symptoms of rabies in humans may include flu-like symptoms: fever, headache, or malaise.

  • Other symptoms may include cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, and insomnia.

  • The acute period of the disease typically ends after 2 to 10 days.

  • Once clinical signs of rabies appear, the disease is nearly always fatal.

  • There is only six documented cases of human survival from clinical rabies.

  • Disease prevention can be done following a bite from an infected animal, being injected with a vaccine (postexposure prophylaxis).
    • Every year an estimated 18,000 people receive preexposure prophylaxis.
    • Every year an estimated 40,000 people receive postexposure prophylaxis.

Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention contributed to this report