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Iroquois County bats tested positive for rabies

Bats found in Cissna Park and Watseka areas have tested positive for rabies. Property owners are advised to take necessary precautions to prevent the spread of rabies.

The Iroquois County Public Health Department is working with the Illinois Department of Public Health's Division of Infectious Diseases and Iroquois County Animal Control in response to laboratory confirmation of the positive tests. The first bat was obtained in the Cissna Park area in May. The second bat testing positive through the Illinois Department of Public Health's State Laboratory was found in the Watseka area last week.

The bat is the primary carrier of rabies in Illinois. Although there are many misconceptions, rabies is transmitted to humans when saliva from a rabid animal gets inside the body of a person, typically through a bite or scratch from the animal. Bats flying above a person's head would not pose a risk for rabies for that person.

To prevent any spread of rabies, the Illinois Department of Public Health suggests:

• Be a responsible pet owner. Keep vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs, cats and ferrets. This requirement is important not only to keep your pets from getting rabies, but also to provide a barrier of protection for you if your animal is bitten by a rabid animal.
• Keep pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal or exposed to a bat, seek veterinary assistance for your pet immediately.
• Call the local animal control agency to remove wild or stray animals in your neighborhood. Iroquois County residents should contact Iroquois Animal Control at (815) 432-6985.
• Avoid direct contact with unfamiliar animals. Do not handle, feed or unintentionally 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 for assistance.
• Teach children not to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. "Love your own, leave other animals alone" is a good safety principle for children to learn.
• Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools and other similar areas where they might come in contact with people or pets.
or further information contact Roxann Basham, RN, BSN at (815) 432-2483 Monday through Friday 8:30 A.M.– 4:30 P.M at the Iroquois County Public Health Department.

94.1 WGFA