SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reminding the public to be aware of the potential for exposure to rabies from infected animals. Bats are the most common source of potential infection in Illinois, and exposures from bats tend to be more frequent during the summer months, especially July and August. The disease can also be found in other wild animals, including raccoons, skunks, foxes, and coyotes.
So far this year, 27 rabid bats have been found in fourteen Illinois counties. There have been five rabid bats each in Kankakee and Lake counties, four in Cook County, and three in McHenry County. Rabies has also been found in bats in Bureau, Clark, DeKalb, Macon, McLean, Peoria, Rock Island, Sangamon, Wayne, and Will counties.
“Rabies is a fatal but preventable disease,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “It is important that Illinois residents know how to prevent rabies exposure to protect themselves and their loved ones. Rabies can be prevented in a number of ways including vaccinating pets, being cautious around wildlife, and seeking medical care immediately after a potential exposure. If exposed, please seek medical attention immediately.”
Rabies is a deadly virus that affects the brain and nervous system. People can get rabies from being bitten by an infected animal. Rabies can also be contracted when saliva from a rabid animal comes into contact with a person’s eyes, nose, mouth, or an open wound. If someone wakes up to find a bat in the room, that is also considered an exposure even if they cannot identify a bite.