Health officials are on alert after a suburban Chicago family discovered multiple rabid bats in the attic of their home.
About two weeks ago, a Homer Glen man called Will County Animal Control to report a bat that he had found squirming around in the family’s garage unable to fly, officials say.
Animal Control tested the bat for rabies and it came back positive. Two days later another infected bat turned up in the same garage.
In a matter of days health experts trapped five more bats in the attic, four of which tested positive for rabies.
Officials say the case is so unusual that county, state, and even federal wildlife experts have never seen anything like it: Six rabid bats all in one colony.
Now the family of three – the man, his wife and their 2-year-old toddler – are all undergoing treatment for rabies as a precaution.
“I had no knowledge that [this] could even occur,” Will County’s Animal Control Administrator Dr. Leroy Schild told NBC Chicago. “Typically if we find one positive bat in an area – even if there's a colony living in the house – none of the others are infested.”
Dr. Schild says public safety is their biggest concern. Teeth on a little brown bat are tiny, and if bitten, you might not see or feel it. But being bitten by a rabid bat could be deadly.
Schild advised residents to vaccinate pets against rabies and warned to never touch injured wildlife. Otherwise, he believes the situation is “totally under control” and the neighborhood is safe.
The homeowner who discovered the bats declined to speak on the incident, but told NBC Chicago that he, his wife and child are all doing fine. He also said the family has since set up traps and so far no more bats have turned up.