The Illinois Department of Public Heath’s state laboratory has confirmed a positive rabid bat found on Evanston‘s north side.
Bats are the primary carriers of rabies in Illinois, though a case of human rabies has not been reported in Illinois since 1954.
“The most significant measure people can take is to avoid all contact with bats and to ensure that their pets’ vaccinations are up-to-date,” said Evonda Thomas, director of Evanston Health and Human Services. “Not only does the vaccine protect the pet, it also serves as barrier of protection for people. Due to the fact that many of the [rabies-]positive bats are discovered indoors, it is important to vaccinate pets even if they never venture out-of-doors.”
The City’s health department urges community members to avoid all contact with bats, since rabid bats may exhibit no obvious abnormalities. Where there is a likelihood of encountering bats, such as at children’s outdoor camps, people should be instructed not to touch the animals. Further, according to the health department, “People should not be allowed to occupy a room in which bats are found until it is certain that no bats remain in the room and that it has been sealed to prevent their re-entry.”
If a bat is found indoors, the structure should be thoroughly inspected for the presence of other roosting bats. Exclusion remains the best way to prevent and control bats in a structure. Bats can be excluded by sealing exterior openings larger than ½-inch, using caulk, expandable foam, plywood, mortar, metal flashing, steel wool or ¼-inch mesh screen or netting. Make sure doors, windows and vents have screens and are securely framed; chimneys are capped; and gaps around utility lines are plugged. Information about exclusion can be found by logging on to the Illinois Department of Public Health web site at http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/pcbats.htm.
For more information go to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/ or call the Evanston Health and Human Services Department at 847-866-2962, or after hours at 847-866-5000.