PEKIN — A Tazewell County woman is being treated for rabies exposure after being bitten by a rabid bat, according to the Tazewell County Health Department.
This is the second rabid bat bite reported in the Peoria area this fall. Late in September a rabid bat bit a dog in Chillicothe. The dog was quarantined and given another round of rabies shots.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 81 bats have tested positive for rabies in Illinois in 2018. Over the past five years, between 1,300 and 1,700 bats have been tested for rabies in Illinois. Typically, about 3 percent test positive for rabies.
Bats are the primary carriers of rabies in Illinois, and you can't tell by looking at a bat if it's rabid. A bat that is active during the day, found on the ground and unable to fly, is likely to be sick. Such bats should never be handled.
Other animals — raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, etc. — also can have rabies. The animal does not have to be aggressive or exhibit other symptoms to have rabies. Changes in any animal’s normal behavior, such as difficulty walking or an overall appearance of illness, can be early signs of rabies.
Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. Humans can get rabies after being bitten or scratched by an infected animal.
The following tips can help prevent the spread of rabies:Call your physician if you are ever scratched or bitten by a stray or wild animal. Exercise extreme caution if you see a nocturnal animal, such as a skunk or bat, in daylight hours. If a bat is in your home, do not release the bat outdoors until after speaking with public health officials. Contact Tazewell County Animal Control to remove or handle live animals. If you are able to do so without putting yourself at risk for physical contact or being bitten, try to cover the bat with a large can or bucket, and close the door to the room. Call Tazewell County Animal Control to remove the bat. Do not handle, feed or attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter. Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick wild animals back to health. Call an animal control or licensed wildlife agency for assistance. Report strangely behaving stray or wild animals to Tazewell County Animal Control. Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. Maintain homes and other buildings so bats cannot gain entry. Be a responsible animal owner. Keep vaccinations up to date for all pets. Seek immediate veterinary assistance if your pet has been bitten by a wild animal or exposed to a bat.
For further questions and additional information, please contact the Tazewell County Health Department at 929-0276 or www.tazewellhealth.org. For more information about bats and rabies in Illinois, visit www.dph.illinois.gov.