Officials are warning Illinois residents to stay alert after an uptick in rabid bats in the city and suburbs.
Two rabid bats were found in the past four days on Chicago’s Southwest Side, according to 19th Ward Alderman Matt O’Shea. The first bat was found Saturday in the 11100 block of S Talman Ave in Morgan Park, and the second was found Monday in the 1800 block of W 105th St in Beverly. Both bats were tested by the Illinois State Public Health Laboratory and determined to be rabid, according to an email alert O’Shea sent to constituents.
A young woman made quite the horrifying discovery when she returned to her Morgan Park home.
“I came home on Saturday night at midnight to a surprise guest,” Ryan told NBC 5. “I ran out as fast as I could. I scooped up my dog and I cried in my hallway before I left.”
Health officials said she did the right thing. The bat, which they believe came in through an open window, tested positive for rabies. Fortunately her dog Lucy already had the rabies vaccine, but she will have to get a booster shot.
"I could've fallen asleep and woken up with a bat in my bedroom, so thank god I caught it when I did,” Ryan added.
That bat was one of 15 cases of rabies found statewide so far this year, which is slightly higher than normal, according to officials. Experts say it’s rare for humans to contract the disease, but when it does occur—it’s devastating.
“Once symptoms start, rabies is almost uniformly fatal,” said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, adding that “Any wild animal that would let you or your child come close enough to touch it is probably the wild animal you should stay the furthest away from.”
Bats with rabies were also found in the suburban communities of Arlington Heights, LaGrange, and Aurora. Experts warn that it can be difficult to tell if an animal is infected, so they advise calling Animal Control immediately. Pet owners should also keep their pets on a leash at all times outside the home and be sure they have up-to-date vaccinations.