First rabid bat of season found in Wilmington

Seven people recommended for treatment

    A bat captured by a resident of the 500 block of Barnes Drive in Wilmington last week tested positive for rabies. The Will County Health Department recommended that the resident and six others begin post exposure treatment for rabies.

    On the morning of Saturday, May 20, the homeowner noticed her five-month old puppy playing with a strange object in her backyard. Upon investigation, she discovered that the object was a small bat.

     She scooped the bat into a bowl and contacted Will County Animal Control, which came and collected it. The bat tested positive for rabies at the Illinois Department of Public Health lab on Monday, May 22. It is the first rabid bat found in Will County this season.    

     Including the dog found playing with the bat, the household is reported to include three dogs and two cats. All are current on rabies vaccinations according to the owner. The exposed puppy has been put in isolation.

     Seven individuals, including the two adults who live at the residence and five visitors or neighbors, all reportedly came in contact with the exposed dog’s mouth or saliva. It has been recommended that they begin a Rabies PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis) series of vaccinations.

     According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system. The virus is present primarily in the saliva, brain tissue and spinal fluid of a rabid animal. Rabies can be transmitted to humans through a bite or scratch, and the disease is virtually always fatal if treatment is significantly delayed.

     All mammals can get rabies, and most of the animals diagnosed each year are wild. In wild animals rabies is most common in bats, skunks, raccoons and foxes, but has also been diagnosed in deer and large rodents such as woodchucks. Cats, dogs and livestock can also contract rabies if they’re not vaccinated. Rabies is rare in rabbits, rats, squirrels, mice and chipmunks; and birds, fish, lizards, snakes and turtles never get rabies.

     Dr. Alpesh Patel from the Will County Health Department says it is very important to not allow your pets to roam free, and to keep your pets supervised while they are outdoors.

     “You might put your dog in the backyard for only 15 minutes, but you never know what they might end up playing with until you find it in their mouth or they bring it inside.”

     Will County residents are reminded to not feed, touch, or adopt wild animals, stray cats, or dogs. Also, do not engage a wild animal that comes on your property. Bring children and pets indoors, and let the animal wander away. Remember to report all animal bites to Will County Animal Control, and encourage children to immediately tell an adult if they are bitten or scratched by an animal. Children should never approach or touch an animal they do not know.

     Animal owners are asked to remember that vaccinated pets serve as a buffer between rabid wildlife and humans, so please be sure that dogs and cats are up-to-date on rabies vaccinations.

     Will County residents are also reminded that if they spot a bat on their property they should contact Will County Animal Control immediately. They are available 24/7 at 815-462-5633.