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Bat tests positive for rabies in Wonder Lake

A bat that tested positive for rabies recently was found outside a Wonder Lake home.

No human exposure was reported, although potential exposure to two dogs found playing with the bat is being taken into consideration. Keeping pets (even those who stay indoors) up to date with vaccinations not only will keep them from getting rabies, but also provide a barrier of protection for people if a rabid animal bites a pet.

Maryellen Howell, manager of the McHenry County Department of Health’s Veterinary Public Health Division, said whether a bat is found inside or outside a home, avoid touching it with bare hands. Use a shovel or plastic bag to ensure no direct contact. For a bat found inside, contain the bat in a room by closing the door. If a bat is found outside and believed to have been exposed to a person or pet, or if the bat is injured, place an upside down bucket over the bat if possible.

In both cases, immediately call animal control at 815-459-6222. To test bats for rabies, it is important that the bat be in good condition (the head is intact) and either alive or recently died.

Rabies is a fatal disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system and only can be confirmed with laboratory testing. The best way to avoid rabies is to avoid exposure. A bat that is active by day, found in a place where bats are not usually seen (such as in a home or on the lawn) or is unable to fly potentially could be rabid. People should take a hands-off approach with all wild animals to reduce risk of exposure. Children also should be educated to avoid handling wild animals. Bats are a protected species.

Call the health department's Communicable Disease Program at 815-334-4500 with questions about exposure. To learn about rabies prevention, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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