Illinois Department of Public Health

IDPH Warns of Rabid Bats in 4 Illinois Counties

As summer approaches and the weather warms up, the Illinois Department of Public Health is reminding the public to be aware of rabid animals, especially bats, as they become more active this time of year, a press release said.

"IDPH has received reports of four rabid bats in the state since May 15 from Champaign, Jackson, Macon and Will counties," the release said.

“While there is a preventive treatment for rabies, it is one of the deadliest diseases we know,” said IDPH Acting Director Amaal Tokars. “Bats are the most common carriers of the rabies virus in Illinois and are responsible for the vast majority of human rabies cases in the United States in recent years."

Humans can get rabies, a virus that affects the brain and nerves, after being bitten by an infected animal, or when saliva or spit from a rabid animal gets directly into a person’s eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound. 

A bite from a rabid animal can be potentially fatal if not treated. However, according to the IDPH, bats have small teeth, and bite marks may not be able to see.

"If you find yourself in close proximity to a bat and are not sure if you were exposed, for example – you wake up and find a bat in your room, do not kill or release the bat before calling your doctor or local health department to help determine you could have been exposed to rabies and need preventive treatment," like vaccines.

Rabies preventive treatment, if needed, must begin quickly.

If Animal Control is Not Available, IDPH Recommends These Steps for Capturing a Bat:

  • When the bat lands, approach it slowly, while wearing gloves, and place a box or coffee can over it
  • Slide a piece of cardboard under the container to trap the bat inside
  • Tape the cardboard to the container securely, and punch small holes in the cardboard, allowing the bat to breathe
  • Do not come into physical contact with a bat
  • If a bat is in your home, do not release the bat outdoors until after speaking with animal control or public health officials
  • After consulting with animal control or public health officials, the bat may need to be captured for rabies testing to determine if you need preventive treatment

According to the IDPH, a bat that is active during the day, found on the ground, or is unable to fly is more likely than others to be rabid. Such bats are often easily approached, but should never be handled.

Tips From IDPH on Dealing with Rabid Animals

  • An animal does not have to be aggressive or exhibit other symptoms to have rabies
  • Do not approach bats or any wild, unfamiliar or stray animal, and any animal that appears to be sick
  • Do not touch, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home, and do not try to nurse sick, wild animals to health.  Call animal control or an animal rescue agency for assistance
  • After consulting with animal control or public health officials, the bat may need to be captured for rabies testing to determine if you need preventive treatment
  • Make sure that rabies vaccinations are up-to-date for pets and livestock. If a pet is exposed to a high-risk wild animal – like a bat, skunk, raccoon, fox or coyote – contact a veterinarian immediately
  • If you have been bitten by any animal, seek immediate medical attention
Contact Us