Health Department: Don't Touch Bats!
DuPage Health Department warns summer is peak bat season—and along with bats comes the threat of rabies.
Are there actually people out there who think it would be a good idea to pick up a live bat they see lying on the ground?
I guess so, because the DuPage Health Department has sent out a release reminding people to leave bats alone.
Bats are most active during the hottest summer months, the health department said, as they swoop to pick bugs out of swimming pools and generally look creepy while flying through the night sky.
But aside from being a little spooky looking, bats are the main rabies carriers in Illinois, the health department said. Rabies is one nasty virus: It cripples the nervous system and is fatal unless treated immediately with a series of vaccines, the health department said.
A rabid bat won’t be foaming at the mouth or hightailing it away from water, either, so you won’t be able to tell just by looking at it that it’s sick.
That’s why your best bet is to steer clear of bats you may see crawling on your patio or hanging out during the day—those bats are more likely to be rabid, the health department said.
The good news is no one in DuPage County got rabies in 2010, the health department said. However, 54 people were possibly exposed.
The even better news is that bats do a world of good keeping other disease-carrying pests such as mosquitoes at bay, local bat expert Sharon Peterson said. And, according to Peterson, less than one percent of bats carry rabies.
But to be on the safe side, the health department offers these rabies prevention tips:
• Be a responsible pet owner. Keep vaccinations up-to-date for all pets.
• Seek immediate veterinary assistance if your pet is bitten by a wild animal or exposed to a bat.
• Call your local police department or your local animal control agency to remove stray animals from your neighborhood.
• Do not handle, feed or attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
• Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or an animal rescue agency for assistance.
• Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
“Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn to reduce the risk of exposures to rabid animals.
• Maintain homes and other buildings so bats cannot gain entry.
• If a bat is in your home, do not release the bat outdoors until after speaking with animal control or public health officials. If you are able to do so without putting yourself 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.