Illinois Department of Public Health

Rabid bats found in Cook, Will County homes

Officials say more animals could be found in the coming months


Illinois health officials are warning residents to be cautious after rabid bats were found in homes in Cook and Will counties earlier this month.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the bats were found on approximately May 10, and both tested positive for rabies. Dr. Sameer Vohra, the director of IDPH, said that as summer arrives the possibility of exposure to the virus grows, and Illinois residents need to take preventative steps.

“Illinois residents should stay away from bats and any wild, unfamiliar or stray animal, as well as any animal that appears to be sick,” he said. “Groups of bats can move into people’s homes, and that underscores the importance of knowing the ways to keep them out.”

In addition to bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes and coyotes can also carry the virus, according to IDPH.

Prevention is the step residents are advised to take, working to keep animals out of their homes. Ensuring that pets and livestock are vaccinated against the virus is also key, as rabies can spread via bites and scratches, according to the CDC.

If a bat is found inside a home, it is recommended to cover it with a container and to contact animal control so the animal can be tested for rabies.

Changes in an animal’s behavior can be early signs of rabies. A bat that is active during the day, found on the ground or is unable to fly is more likely to be rabid, according to IDPH.

If a person has been bitten or scratched by an animal that is suspected to have rabies, immediate medical attention is required. Medical care following an exposure involves care for the wound site and a dose of human rabies immune globulin, along with a series of four-to-five rabies vaccines.

The protocols are nearly 100% effective if administered in a timely fashion, according to the CDC.

Only 1-to-3 cases of rabies are reported each year in the United States, but once the virus is diagnosed it is considered “universally fatal” by the CDC, according to officials.

More information can be found on the CDC’s website.

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