Home Health Urgent rabies warning as disease-riddled bats are running rampant across US

Urgent rabies warning as disease-riddled bats are running rampant across US

State health officials in Illinois have recently extracted rabid bats from two homes, prompting warnings for pet owners to remain vigilant for signs of rabies.

This discovery comes just weeks after similar cases were reported in Michigan.

Bats are known carriers of the rabies virus, they are found in every U.S. state except Hawaii.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) officials are urging residents to ensure that rabies vaccinations are current for pets, valuable livestock, and horses.

Additionally, they recommend being alert to unusual behavior in common rabies carriers such as bats, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and foxes.

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The two bats, discovered on May 10, have been confirmed to be rabid.

This finding has led the IDPH to release detailed guidelines on preventing bats from nesting in homes, particularly as rabid bat activity is expected to increase during the summer months.

“Groups of bats can move into people’s homes, highlighting the importance of knowing how to keep bats out,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra.

“Rabies is a fatal but preventable disease. It is crucial that Illinois residents understand how to prevent rabies exposure to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

Dr. Vohra emphasized that if a bat is found inside a home, the first step is to attempt to cover it with a container and contact animal control for rabies testing.

She advised using protective gloves and a box or coffee can to trap the bat.

To reduce the risk of rabid bats entering homes, the IDPH recommends installing coverings on chimney openings and securing frames on all entrances, including doors, windows, and vents.

Their “bat exclusion” guide suggests that any opening larger than a quarter of an inch should be sealed.

Recommended materials for this task include caulk, expandable foam, plywood, mortar, metal flashing, steel wool, or quarter-inch mesh screen or netting.

A novel design mentioned in the guide is a “one-way valve” system, which allows bats to leave an infested structure but blocks them from reentering.

Contrary to common stereotypes, not all rabid animals act aggressively or foam at the mouth.

The IDPH warns that changes in any animal’s normal behavior can be early signs of rabies.

For example, a bat that is active during the day, found on the ground, or appears unable to fly should be treated as if it has rabies.

“If you have been bitten by any animal, seek immediate medical attention,” the IDPH added.

“Bite wounds can become infected, and if the animal is high risk for rabies, preventive treatment must begin quickly.”

Health officials recommend not killing or releasing a bat before contacting a doctor or local health department to determine if there was possible rabies exposure.

A captured bat can help local health officials decide the appropriate course of treatment for those exposed.

Residents are urged to follow these guidelines and remain vigilant as rabid bat activity increases, ensuring both personal and public health safety.


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