Avoid and Exclude Bats to Prevent the Possible Spread of Rabies

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Health Department

For Immediate Release:
Date: June 20, 2016
Contact: Leslie Piotrowski
(847) 377-8055

Avoid and Exclude Bats to Prevent the Possible Spread of Rabies

With the weather warming up, bats become more active as they seek food and shelter in which to raise their young.  While bats have mainly beneficial effects, with some species able to eat up to 600 insects in an hour, they are also the only animals that have tested positive for rabies in Lake County in over 15 years.  Because of the potential for the spread of rabies from bats to humans, the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center is urging Lake County residents to avoid contact with these animals.  In a typical year, the Health Department confirms rabies, a fatal disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals, in around 3 to 4 percent of the bats tested.  

The Health Department is also urging anyone who has direct contact with a bat or notices a bat acting in an unusual manner, such as flying in daylight or lying on the ground or in your home, to contact Animal Care & Control at (847) 377-4700. If the bat is inside your house, close the door and keep people away from the room where the bat is located. Trained animal wardens will remove the bat at no cost to the resident or refer the caller to the appropriate jurisdiction.  The Health Department may need to submit the bat for rabies testing if a household member has had contact with it. Therefore, it is important not to chase the bat away or discard it. Negative results of testing may eliminate the need for medical treatment of exposed people. 

Parents should make sure children know that they should never touch a bat that is lying on the ground. The bat may not be dead, just ill, and could bite.  Pet owners should be on the alert for bats near their homes, because pets that spend time outdoors can easily come into contact with these animals. If a rabid animal bites a pet, the pet may, in turn, bite a person, transmitting rabies to that individual.  Rabies can be avoided in pets by vaccination, which is why a rabies vaccination is required for dogs and cats. 

The Health Department can also refer callers to bat exclusion companies and provide information on methods for excluding bats.  Bats can be excluded from living quarters by covering chimneys and vents with half-inch hardware cloth screens, by installing draft guards beneath doors, and by sealing any other possible access routes, especially around screen doors, windows and plumbing.  Bats potentially can enter holes as small as 3/4” in diameter. They do not chew insulation or otherwise make new holes. Their entries must then be covered or plugged.  For small crevices, silicone caulking may help.  If a large bat colony must be evicted from a wall or attic, careful observations should be made at dusk to find entry holes (also sometimes recognizable by stains around used holes or crevices or by droppings beneath). The holes should be plugged after the bats emerge to feed (which they do during evening hours). For more information, visit: http://www.lakecountyil.gov/858/Rabies

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Lake County Health Department
3010 Grand Ave.
Waukegan, IL 60085
(847) 377-8000