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posted: 6/2/2014 4:07 PM

Avoid, Exclude Bats to Prevent Spread of Rabies

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Lake County Health Department

The Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center is urging residents to avoid bats now that bats are becoming more active due to the warmer weather.

During the warmer months of the year, bats 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. Two bats, found in Lake Barrington and Beach Park, tested positive for rabies in the past few weeks. Neither case involved human contact. On average, 3 percent of bats submitted for testing from Lake County test positive for rabies on an annual basis.

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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.

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 also develop rabies and present risk to humans. 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, including a schedule of low-cost pet vaccination clinics, visit: http://health.lakecountyil.gov/Population/Pages/Animal-Care-and-Control.aspx.

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