WOODSTOCK—McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH) reminds residents that bat season is here so it’s time to think about protecting your family and pets from rabies exposure. If a bat is found in the home, contain the bat in a room by closing the door or plain a bucket (with no lip) on it and immediately calling Animal Control 815-459-6222. In order to test bats for rabies, it is important they be in good condition (i.e. head is intact) – either alive or recently deceased. Only in cases of confirmed exposure will bats be submitted for testing, according to Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) protocol. Specimens in good condition and test negative for rabies eliminates the need for rabies treatment following human exposure. IDPH reports, as of May 27, seven bats have tested positive for rabies in Illinois. Last year, MCDH had no reports of rabid bats, with IDPH reporting 40 statewide. MCDH reported two rabid bats in 2013, with 55 reported by IDPH.


The best way to avoid rabies is to avoid exposure. For questions about exposure or to determine the need for treatment, call MCDH’s Communicable Disease Program at 815-334-4500. Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system and can only be confirmed in a laboratory. Keeping cats and dogs up to date with vaccinations will not only keep them from getting rabies, but will also provide a barrier of protection for you if a rabid animal bites your pet. Residents are encouraged to take a “hands off” approach to wild animals to reduce their risk of exposure. Children should also be educated about the dangers.


For more on rabies, visit IDPH at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/duseases-and-conditions/diseases-a-z-list/rabies.

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