An Evergreen Park resident found a dead bat that tested positive for rabies late last week, a Cook County official said.
“The dead bat was found outside a home in Evergreen Park,” Amy Poore said, spokeswoman for the Cook County Department of of Public Health. “The homeowner discovered the bat but did not touch it so there was no human exposure.”
Due to confidentiality, the county would is not releasing the homeowner’s address, Poore said.
Evergreen Park Animal Control could not immediately be reached.
Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system or humans and other mammals. A person may contract rabies through a bite, scratch or saliva from an infected animal, a county press release said.
Specifically, pertaining to bats, a bite or scratch may not be seen or even felt by the injured person due to the small size of its teeth and claws. Potentially rabies exposures should never be taken lightly. If untreated, rabies is fatal.
“If you find yourself in close proximity to a bat, dead or alive, do not touch, hit or destroy it and do not try and remove it from your home,” said Cook County Department of Public Health chief operating officer Terry Mason, MD, FACS.
“Call your local animal control office to collect the bat and call your healthcare provider or local public health department to report the exposure and determine if preventive treatment is needed," Mason added. "If the bat is available for testing and test results are negative, preventive treatment is not needed.”
The Evergreen Park bat is the fifth that has tested positive for rabies in suburban Cook County this year. Other findings include two in Tinley Park; one in Arlington Heights and one in Elgin.
The Chicago Tribune reported that a cat dragged home a rabid bit in Tinley Park in the 16400 block of Beverly Avenue in Tinley Park on August 27. The cat was not up to date on its rabies vaccinations, and now must be quarantined in its owner's home for the next six months. The cat will not be allowed outdoors.
Animals exposed to rabies do not have to be aggressive or behaving erratically. Changes in any animal’s normal behavior can be early signs of rabies. Bats on the ground, unable to flue, or those which are active during that day could potentially be rabid, county officials said.
Such bats are often easily approached but should never be handled.