Second rabid bat reported in McHenry County

WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Department of Health reported its second rabid bat, which was found by a homeowner Tuesday outside a dog run at an Island Lake residence.

There was no human exposure, but the incident supports the need for pet owners to keep their animals up-to-date on rabies vaccinations, according to a news release from the health department.

In order to test bats for rabies, the bat must be in good condition (i.e. the head is intact) – either alive or recently dead.

Specimens in good condition that test negative for rabies eliminate the need for rabies treatment after human exposure.

Statewide, 23 rabid bats have been reported in eight counties and the city of Chicago. Last year, McHenry County reported two rabid bats. Bats reported statewide totaled 63.

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system and can be confirmed only in a laboratory.

Keeping cats and dogs current with vaccinations will not only keep them from getting rabies, but also provide a barrier of protection for humans if the animal is bitten by a rabid animal.

Most bats leave in the fall or winter to hibernate, so these are the best times to “bat-proof” a home. A fact sheet on bat exclusion can be viewed at www.mcdh.info.

Residents are encouraged to take a hands-off approach to wild animals to reduce the risk of exposure.

Children also should be educated about the dangers. A bat that is active by day – found in a place where bats are not usually seen (such as in a home, in a swimming pool or on the lawn) or is unable to fly – is more likely than others to be rabid.

To learn more about rabies prevention, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.

Questions about exposure should be directed to the health department’s Communicable Disease Program at 815-334-4500.

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