Bat found in Eureka tests positive for rabies, second one this year

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EUREKA, Ill. (WMBD) — A second bat has tested positive for rabies this year in Eureka.

The Woodford County Health Department reported another bat tested positive for rabies after it was collected from a private residence in Eureka. There was no human exposure to the bat.

The deceased bat was found by the homeowner’s pet, and the pet is up-to-date on its annual rabies vaccination.

Andrea Ingwersen, Public Information Officer for the Woodford County Health Department, said, “It is rare that we have two bats test positive in one year in our county. The last time WCHD had a bat test positive for rabies before this year was 2018, and before that 2004. Woodford County tests approximately 6-8 bats per year.”

Ingwersen also said about 3% of bats tested this year have been positive for rabies, and even if rabies has not been reported in the immediate area, interactions with bats should still be avoided.

Rabies can be spread through the saliva of a rabid bat and can get into the eyes, nose, mouth, or open wound of an animal or person. The only way to confirm if a bat has rabies is through testing and only needs to be tested in instances when a person or pet has been exposed to a bat.

Bats are the primary carriers of rabies in Illinois, and it is difficult to tell if a bat has rabies by looking at it. The animal does not have to be aggressive or have other symptoms to have rabies.

Change in the animal’s normal behavior, such as difficulty walking or an overall appearance of illness, can be an early sign of rabies.

A bat that is found on the ground, unable to fly, is most likely sick and should never be handled.

The Woodford County Health Department recommends these strategies to help prevent the spread of rabies:

  • Bat bites are hard to notice, the only way to evaluate risk to rabies is to test the bat.
  • If a bat is found dead or alive at home, especially in the bedroom, there is a possibility of being bitten while asleep. This risk applies to any person in that sleeping area, even an infant or pet.
  • Call a physician right away if ever scratched or bitten by stray or wild animals.
  • Exercise extreme caution if a nocturnal animal, such as a skunk or bat, is seen during the daylight hours.
  • If it is possible to do so without putting anybody 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 a licensed professional pest control operator to remove the bat.
  • If a bat is at home, do not release the bat outdoors until after speaking with public health officials. Woodford County Health Department cannot remove or handle live animals.
  • Do not handle, feed or attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into the house. Do not try to nurse sick wild animals to health. Call an animal rescue agency for assistance. Report strangely behaving stray or wild animals to local 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 (indoor/outdoor). Seek immediate veterinary assistance if a pet has been bitten by a wild animal or exposed to a bat.

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