The Bond County Health Department has been notified that a bat submitted to the Illinois Department of Public Health this week has tested positive for rabies. The bat was found dead on September 6 near Harris Avenue in Greenville.
In a July news release, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reminded people to beware of potentially rabid bats and other animals. At that time, 17 bats had tested positive for rabies in Illinois.
“People can receive preventive treatment if they are exposed to an animal infected with rabies,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D. “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.”
While the number of bats submitted for rabies testing has ranged from 1,300 to 1,700 each year over the past five years, the number testing positive for rabies is typically around three percent. More bats are typically submitted for testing in August and September.
The only way rabies can be diagnosed in a bat is by laboratory testing. Signs that a bat or other animal could have rabies are a general appearance of sickness or a change in the animal’s normal behavior. However, you can’t tell just by looking at a bat if it has rabies. Only in instances when a person or pet has been exposed to a bat will the bat need to be tested for rabies.
Bats, like all wild animals, should never be handled. Do not feed, touch, or adopt wild animals or stray dogs or cats. If you are bitten by a bat or other animal, you should seek medical attention immediately. If you discover a dead bat, you should notify the health department immediately so the animal can be appropriately tested.
To keep your pets safe, make sure they are vaccinated and don’t allow them to roam freely. If a wild animal comes on your property, bring children and pets inside and allow the animal to wander away. If the animal is acting abnormally, contact animal control.
Questions may be directed to the Bond County Health Department at 618-664-1442. The Animal Control Officer for the City of Greenville may be reached through the Greenville Police Department at 618-664-2131.
You can find more information about rabies www.dph.illinois.gov.