The Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center continues to urge Lake County residents to avoid contact with bats, and to follow public health recommendations whenever there is contact with a bat. A bat, found in a Lake Barrington home on May 24, has tested positive for rabies. This is the third bat that tested positive for rabies in Lake County this year. The other two were found in Beach Park and Lake Villa. In the Lake Barrington case, family members found the bat dead on the floor of one of the bedrooms. As a result, the child who slept in the bedroom as well as four additional family members are receiving rabies post exposure vaccinations in accordance with Centers for Disease Control guidelines and health care provider recommendations.
Rabies is an almost always fatal disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. However, this disease is fully preventable with medication. Most commonly, people get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal. In other cases, people can contract rabies if any infectious material from a rabid animal, such as saliva, comes in contact with one’s nose, mouth, an open wound or gets directly into the eyes.
Following are ways people can protect themselves and their pets from rabies:
- Vaccinated pets serve as a buffer between rabid wildlife and humans, so be sure dogs and cats are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations. Consult with your veterinarian about when your pet needs to be vaccinated.
- Do not allow pets to roam free.
- Do not attract wild animals to your home or yard. Store bird seed or other animal feed in containers with tight-fitting lids. Feed pets indoors. Make sure garbage cans are tightly capped. Board up any openings to your attic, basement, porch or garage. Cap chimneys with screens.
- Encourage children to immediately tell an adult if they are bitten or scratched by an animal. Teach children not to approach or to touch any animal they do not know.
- Report all animal bites to the Health Department’s Animal Care and Control Program at (847) 949-9925.
Anyone who has direct contact with a bat or notices a bat acting in an unusual manner, such as flying in daylight or lying on the ground or in your home, should contact the Health Department’s Animal Care and Control program at (847) 949-9925. If the bat is inside of your house, do not chase it away because it may be needed for rabies testing. Close the doors and keep people away from the room where the bat is located. Trained animal wardens will remove the bat at no cost to the resident or refer the caller to the appropriate jurisdiction. Avoid touching, hitting or destroying the bat. When dead bats are submitted to state labs for rabies testing, they need to be undamaged.
While bats can transmit rabies, they are also beneficial animals. Some species can eat up to 600 insects in an hour. Besides mosquitoes, bats eat crop-destroying pests, like moths, beetles and grasshoppers.