Lawrence M. Walsh
A rabid bat was found dead on June 2 at the Crete Public Library, in Crete, IL. The bat tested positive for rabies on June 3 by the Illinois Department of Public Health laboratory. This bat has become Will County's second confirmed case of wildlife rabies for 2016. The first positive case was on May 5 in Braidwood. So far this year, there have been 15 confirmed cases across the state of Illinois.
The bat was found in a locked, empty meeting room at the library. According to library officials, there was no known human contact with the bat, so no further safety precautions are recommended.
Rabies is a usually fatal viral disease which attacks the central nervous system. The virus is present in the saliva, brain tissue, and spinal fluid of an infected warm-blooded animal.
Will County residents should follow these guidelines to protect themselves and their families from rabies:
1. Do not feed, touch or adopt wild animals or stray dogs or cats.
2. Vaccinated pets serve as a buffer between rabid wildlife and humans, so be sure dogs and cats are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations. Consult with your veterinarian about when your pet needs to be vaccinated.
3. Do not allow pets to roam free.
4. Do not attract wild animals to your home or yard. Store bird seed or other animal feed in containers with tight-fitting lids. Feed pets indoors. Make sure garbage cans are tightly closed. Board up any openings to your attic, basement, porch or garage. Cover chimneys with screens.
5. Encourage children to immediately tell an adult if they are bitten or scratched by an animal. Teach children not to approach or to touch any animal they do not know.
6. Report all animal bites to the local animal control.
If a wild animal comes on your property, let it wander away. Bring children and pets indoors and alert neighbors. If the animal is acting abnormally (nocturnal animal around during daylight hours, animal having trouble walking, etc.) you should contact your local animal control.
July, August and September are prime months for area bat exposures. Report any contact with a bat, or other warm-blooded animals to the nearest Animal Control authority as soon as possible. Will County Animal Control is available 24 hours daily at 815-462-5633.
For more information, visit the website: www.willcountyhealth.org.