Metro-East News

More than 15 bats have tested positive for rabies in Illinois this year

The Illinois Department of Public Health suggests that if there is a bat in your home or indoor area, close the door and call the local health department.
The Illinois Department of Public Health suggests that if there is a bat in your home or indoor area, close the door and call the local health department. Eastern Illinois University

Watch for bats in the belfry: 17 bats have tested positive for rabies in Illinois this year.

The Illinois Department of Public Health warns that you can’t tell by looking if a bat has rabies, so people should avoid handling them and make sure pets are vaccinated.

“People can receive preventative treatment if they are exposed to an animal infected with rabies,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, IDPH director. “Although most bats are not infected with rabies, it’s important to avoid handling bats, get and keep your pets vaccinated, and make sure your home has no openings where bats can come in.”

The number of bats submitted for rabies testing at IDPH ranges from 1,300 to 1,700 a year over the last five years, and usually only 3 percent test positive. Bats are only submitted for testing when a person or pet has been exposed to a bat.

IDPH suggests that if there is a bat in your home or indoor area, close the door and call the local health department. If bitten by a bat or any wild animal, medical attention is suggested. All pets should be vaccinated against rabies and should not be allowed to roam freely.

Bat World Sanctuary works to help bats trapped in local buildings.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald
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