Health Department Assisting State in Rabies Investigation

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LCHD 2017




For Immediate Release
Date: June 21, 2021
Contact: Emily Young
(847) 772-2204


Take Steps to Protect Yourself from Rabies

Lake County, Ill. — The Lake County Health Department is assisting the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) as it investigates a group of 33 dogs that were imported from Azerbaijan through O’Hare Airport last weekThe investigation began after one of the dogs was transferred to Pennsylvania where it began exhibiting behaviors consistent with rabies and was euthanized. It was later confirmed that this dog tested positive for rabies.  

Because all 33 dogs were transported as a group, the remaining dogs are presumed to have come in contact with the rabid dog and need to be located and receive a veterinary evaluationFour dogs from the group are known to have gone through Lake County, though two were immediately sent to other states. The two remaining dogs in Lake County have received a veterinary examination and are required to be quarantined by IDPH for 45 days. We are continuing to assist the IDPH in their investigation. 

Dog rabies has effectively been eliminated in the United States since 2007. Beginning July 14, 2021, there is a temporary suspension that prohibits the entry of dogs into the United States from 113 high-risk countries.  

“Cases of dog rabies are extremely rare in the United States,“ said Larry Mackey, Director of Environmental Health at the Lake County Health Department. “However, it is important to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions with pets and wild animals you may encounter.” 

Rabies virus is transmitted through direct contact (such as broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth) with saliva or brain/nervous system tissue from an infected animal. People usually get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal. 

The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, causing disease in the brain and eventually, death. Early symptoms of rabies in people include fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear, including insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation, difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia. Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms. 

What You Can Do to Help Control Rabies  

  • Do not feed, touch, or adopt wild animals or stray dogs and cats. Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, even if they appear friendly. Contact the Health Department if you encounter sick or injured wildlife as well as wildlife within your home. 

  • Vaccinate your pets and do not allow them to roam free. If bitten by a rabid animal, pets may develop rabies and present a risk to humans. Contact your veterinarian to schedule a vaccination appointment. 
  • A rabid animal may act tame. Don’t go near it. If you see a wild animal acting strangely, report it to Animal Care and Control. Most cases of rabies occur in wild animals - mainly skunks, raccoons, bats, and foxes. 

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LCHD logo 2017

Lake County Health Department
3010 Grand Avenue
Waukegan, Illinois 60085
(847) 377-8000