Health Department asks residents to avoid contact with bats


DIXON — The Lee County Health Department reports a bat was recently identified as rabies-positive in Dixon and warns residents that the presence of rabies can be a serious threat to pets and family members. The Health Department is urging residents to avoid contact with bats as they start becoming more active this time of year.

“With identification of a rabid bat in Lee County, we are urging residents to call Animal Control at 815-284-3833 if a bat is found inside the home. Under certain circumstances, animal control may pick up the bat to be submitted for testing,” according to Cathy Ferguson-Allen, Administrator of the Lee County Health Department. “It’s important to avoid contact with a bat in your home. If you suspect exposure to bats, report that exposure immediately to the Health Department at 815-284-3371.” 

The best way to prevent this is to seal cracks, chimney holes, or other areas that may allow a bat to enter. Also, please keep your pets up to date on rabies vaccinations. 

Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. Humans can get rabies after being bitten by an infected animal. Rabies can be  contracted when saliva from a rabid animal gets directly into the eyes, nose, mouth or a wound. Without preventive treatment, rabies is a fatal disease. If you have been bitten or exposed to a bat, seek immediate medical attention. Bat bites may not be felt while sleeping. Treatment with rabies immune globulin and a vaccine series must begin immediately. 

In addition to bats, wild animals such as racoons, skunks, fox, or coyotes can have rabies and transmit it to humans or pets. 

Changes in any animal’s normal behavior, such as difficulty walking or an overall appearance of illness, can be early signs of rabies. For example, rabid skunks, which normally are nocturnal and avoid contact with people, may approach humans during daylight hours. A bat that is active during the day, found on the ground or is unable to fly is more likely than others to be rabid. Such bats are often easily approached but should never be handled.