BOONE COUNTY -- The Boone County Health Department is urging residents to avoid contact with bats as they start becoming more active during this time of year. Bats are the primary carrier of rabies in Illinois. A bat has been identified as rabies-positive in Boone County this year and residents need to understand that the presence of rabies can be a serious risk to pets and family members.
People often know when they’ve been bitten by a bat, but most types of bats have very small teeth which may leave marks that disappear quickly. If you are bitten by a bat -- or if infectious material (such as saliva or brain material if it is killed) from a bat gets into your eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound -- wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and get medical advice immediately. Whenever possible, the bat should be captured and sent to a laboratory for rabies testing.
People can’t get rabies just from seeing a bat in an attic, in a cave, at summer camp, or from a distance while it is flying. In addition, people can’t get rabies from having contact with bat guano (feces), blood, or urine, or from touching a bat on its fur.
If you woke up because a bat landed on you while you were sleeping or if you awakened and found a bat in your room, you should remove everyone from the room leaving the bat isolated and call Animal Control at 815-547-7774 to have it tested. The same precautions should be used if you see a bat in a room with an unattended child, or see a bat near a mentally impaired or intoxicated person.
"We are urging residents to call Animal Control at 815-547-7774 if a bat is found inside the home.” said Cindy Frank, Administrator at the Boone County Health Department. It’s important to remember that you should never try to approach or catch a bat, or any wild animal, in your home. You cannot tell by looking at a bat if it is rabid. 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. Such bats are often easily approached, but should never be handled. If you suspect exposure to bats, report that exposure immediately to the Health Department at 815-544-2951, Ext. 2.
The best way to prevent this is to seal cracks, chimney holes, or other areas that may allow a bat to enter. Additionally, pets should be kept up-to-date in rabies vaccinations. Without preventive treatment, rabies is a fatal disease. If you have been bitten or exposed to a bat, seek immediate medical attention. Treatment with rabies immune globulin and a vaccine series must begin immediately.
Information about keeping bats out of your home or buildings can be found by logging on to www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/pcbats.htm.
Information about rabies can be found at www.idph.state.il.us/health/infect/reportdis/rabies.htm.