June 10, 2013
Updated Jun 10, 2013 at 10:36 AM CST
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – A bat found inside a Bloomington home has tested positive for rabies. It is the first rabies-positive bat in McLean County this year.
Last year, McLean County had only one bat test positive for rabies, three rabies-positive bats were found in 2011. So far this year, six bats have tested positive for rabies in Illinois.
“As the weather warms up, we are approaching the time of year that bats are most active,” McLean County Health Department Director Walt Howe said. “It is important for individuals to know how to avoid rabies exposure for themselves and their pets. Vaccinating pets against rabies is a crucial part of preventing rabies transmission to humans.”
According to the McLean County Health Department, most of the recent human rabies cases in the U.S. were caused by exposure to bats. Bat bites are often undetectable because their teeth are small and sharp.
Bats flying outside at night pose little risk but bats that are active during the day, flopping around on the ground or being in a place where bats are not usually seen, such as a house, should be avoided. Residents are advised to contact local emergency authorities either through dialing 911 or calling local dispatch centers: Bloomington residents call (309) 820-8888, Normal and county residents call (309) 888-5030.
Tips for rabies safety include:
• If a bat is in your home, call emergency dispatch; Bloomington residents call 309-820-8888, Normal and county residents call 309-888-5030.
• Never approach stray or wild animals, even if they seem friendly. Reinforce this message with children.
• Report strangely behaving stray or wild animals to Animal Control.
• Call your physician if you are ever scratched or bitten by stray or wild animals.
• Exercise extreme caution if you see a nocturnal animal, such as a skunk or bat, in daylight hours.
• Keep dogs and cats rabies vaccinations up-to-date.
• Call your veterinarian if your pet appears to have been scratched or bitten.
• Let stray or wild animals that roam onto your property wander away on their own. Bring pets and children inside.
• Block sites around your house that wild animals may use for sleeping or raising young.
• Remove sources of food from the outside of your home by capping garbage cans, feeding pets indoors and limiting access to your garden.
For more information about McLean County Animal Control’s bat response, animal vaccination and registration requirements and other animal control programs, call (309) 888-5060 or visit http://health.mcleancountyil.gov