Two dogs in Lake County quarantined amid rabies investigation

  • Most cases of rabies occur in wild animals, mainly skunks, raccoons, bats and foxes, health officials say.

    Most cases of rabies occur in wild animals, mainly skunks, raccoons, bats and foxes, health officials say. Getty Images

Updated 6/21/2021 5:58 PM

The Lake County Health Department is assisting state authorities in an investigation involving imported dogs presumed to have come into contact with rabies.

According to Lake County health officials, the group of 33 dogs imported last week from Azerbaijan passed through O'Hare International Airport. The investigation began after one of the dogs was taken to Pennsylvania and then euthanized after exhibiting behaviors consistent with rabies.


Four dogs from the group are known to have gone through Lake County. Two were immediately sent to other states. The two other dogs in Lake County were examined and are being quarantined for 45 days by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

A representative of the state health department was not immediately available for comment Monday, and the status or location of the other dogs was not known.

Rabies is transmitted through direct contact with the saliva or brain/nervous system tissue from an infected animal, usually through a bite.

Most cases occur in wild animals, mainly skunks, raccoons, bats and foxes.

"Cases of dog rabies are extremely rare in the United States," Larry Mackey, director of environmental health for the Lake County Health Department, said in a news release.

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"However, it is important to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions with pets and wild animals you may encounter," he added.

According to Lake County health officials, dog rabies has effectively been eliminated in the U.S. since 2007. There is a temporary suspension that prohibits the entry of dogs into the U.S. from 113 high-risk countries, health officials said.

Early symptoms include fever, headache and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation, difficulty swallowing and an irrational fear of water may ensue. Death usually ensues within days of these symptoms.

To control rabies:

• Don't feed, touch or adopt wild animals or stray dogs and cats. Contact the heath department if you encounter sick or injured wildlife.

• Vaccinate your pets and don't let them roam free.

• A rabid animal may act tame, so don't go near it.

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