Will County has seen numerous rabid bats since the beginning of 2016, and a seventh one has been spotted this past week in New Lenox.
A New Lenox couple saw their pet dog struggling with a bat in their backyard. From their window, they watched the dog capture and kill the creature, and immediately ran outside to pry the bat from its mouth. After removing the bat with their bare hands, the residents contacted Will County Animal Control.
The bat was collected and tested positive for rabies on September 19. Both dogs that live in the New Lenox household have been reported to be “up to date” on their rabies vaccinations and the owners have been advised to begin rabies treatment, given that they came in direct contact with the diseased animal.
The Mayo Clinic stresses the importance of being aware of your surroundings – especially wild animals – at this time of year. “There’s no specific treatment for rabies infection. Though a small number of people have survived rabies, the disease is usually fatal.” If you are unsure of whether or not the animal that bit you was rabid, it is best to seek treatment immediately. “If you’ve been bitten by an animal that is known to have rabies, you must receive a series of shots to prevent the virus from infecting you,” the Mayo Clinic reports.
Apesh Patel, an epidemiologist with the Will County Department of Public Health, reported, “Summer months are a prime time for bat exposure as more people are outdoors, and leave windows and doors open,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Will County officials are reminding residents how to steer clear of and prevent rabies this season:
Do not interact with stray animals
Make sure your pets are up-to-date on rabies vaccinations
Keep an eye on your pets when they are outside
Do not attract wild animals to your yard (feed pets indoors, keep animal feed in sealed containers, seal any entrances to your house such as windows or chimneys)
Remind children to refrain from touching animals and have them report if they are bitten or scratched by an animal immediately
Report all animal bites and scratches to local animal control
The Will County Animal Control can be contacted at (815) 462-5633.