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Rabid bats found in multiple Chicago area homes – NBC Chicago

Health officials in Illinois are warning residents to be careful 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 around May 10 and both tested positive for rabies. Dr. Sameer Vohra, the director of IDPH, said that as summer approaches, the chance of exposure to the virus increases and Illinoisans should take preventative measures.

“Illinois residents should stay away from bats and any wild, unknown or stray animal, as well as any animal that appears to be sick,” he said. “Groups of bats can enter people’s homes, highlighting the importance of knowing how 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 and commit to keeping animals out of their homes. It is also critical to ensure that pets and livestock are vaccinated against the virus, as rabies can spread through bites and scratches, the CDC said.

If a bat is found in the house, it is advisable to cover it with a container and contact Animal Protection so that 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 unable to fly is more likely to be rabid, according to IDPH.

If a person has been bitten or scratched by an animal suspected of having rabies, immediate medical attention is required. Medical care after exposure includes wound care and a dose of human rabies immunoglobulin, along with a series of four to five rabies vaccines.

According to the CDC, the protocols are nearly 100% effective if implemented in a timely manner.

Only one to three 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 the CDC.

More information can be found on the CDC website.