Rabid bat found in Johnsburg home, young child's bedroom

Posted6/21/2021 1:14 PM

The McHenry County Department of Health is announcing that a bat found in a young child's bedroom in Johnsburg on June 16 has tested positive for rabies.

Upon notification of the positive result, the health department immediately contacted the family and the appropriate rabies postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) has been started.


"As soon as an exposure to a positive rabid animal is identified it becomes a medical urgency not an emergency, decisions to initiate PEP should not be delayed," said Susan Karras, MCDH Director of Public Health Nursing.

Maryellen Howell, Manager of Veterinary Public Health Division, advises people use a shovel or plastic bag to ensure there is no direct contact between themselves and the bat. If a live bat is found inside, contain it in a room by closing the door and placing a towel along the bottom. If a bat is found in a main living area and there has been exposure to a person or pet place an upside down bucket over the bat if possible. In both cases, immediately call Animal Control (815) 459-6222.

To test bats for rabies, it is important the bat be in good condition (i.e. head is intact) and either alive or recently deceased.

"People should take a hands-off approach to all wild animals to reduce their risk of exposure," Howell said.

Rabies is a fatal disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system, only confirmed by laboratory testing. The best way to avoid rabies is to avoid exposure. A bat that is active by day, found in a place where bats are not usually seen (such as in your home) or is unable to fly, is potentially rabid. Children should also be educated to avoid handling wild animals. Bats are a protected species and part of the natural habitat.

If you have questions about exposure, call the health department's Communicable Disease Program at (815) 334-4500.

To learn more about rabies prevention, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/rabies/.