Protect Your Home and Pets from Rabies

April 04, 2012

Chicago experienced its warmest March in history last month, and with that came the early emergence of flowers, bees, mosquitoes, bats. Wait, bats?

Yes, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is warning Illinois residents that warmer temperatures make bats active, which expands the possibility of exposure to rabies. Already this year, a bat has tested positive for rabies in Illinois and two people are undergoing post-exposure treatment after coming in contact with it.

sack-winged bat

If you find a bat in your home, there's a chance there are more roosting around.

“Bats are already active this year due to the early, warm temperatures,” said Dr. Connie Austin, state public health veterinarian. “It’s important to remember that you should never try to approach or catch a bat, or any wild animal, you find outside. Instead, call your local animal control agency for its recommendations.”

The IDPH also warns that it’s possible to find a bat inside your home. So what should you do if you do?

“If a bat is in your home, do not release the bat outdoors until after speaking with animal control or public health officials. If you can do it without putting yourself at risk for physical contact or being bitten, try to cover the bat with a large can or bucket, and close the door to the room.”

The IDPH says not to kill or release the bat if you feel you were bitten by it; you might need to test that bat to see if it carries rabies.

If you find a bat inside your home, have your property thoroughly inspected for roosting bats, and figure out where in your home bats can gain access.

It’s also necessary, in this day of massive Chicago real estate foreclosures and vacancies, for building and home owners to maintain those empty properties so bats can’t get in.

Without preventive treatment, rabies is a fatal disease. Humans and mammals can get rabies from many wild animals, including raccoon, skunk, fox and coyote.

Your pet can get rabies if exposed to an animal that carries it. Make sure all your animals’ vaccinations are up-to-date, and take a pet to the vet immediately if it is bitten by a wild animal or exposed to a bat.

To find out more about rabies, click here.

For more information about keeping bats out of your home or building, visit idph.state.il.us.

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