McHenry County Health Department Warns of Rabid Bats

Keely can't wait to chase bats in our home. In the background are photos of my parents and daughter Alexandra.

They’re back.

The rabid bats, I mean.

I first got interested with rabid bats when the McHenry County Health Department used them as an excuse to try to impose what I came to call the McHenry County Republican Cat Tax.

The pitch was that all cats had to be immunized against rabies in order to protect them.

Oh, yes.

Each cat had to be licensed so the county health department could make sure they had had their rabies shot.

As our Keely Cat knows, some cats are not allowed to go outside, even though that mean man in the smelling office has stuck a needle in him.

Anyway, Keely Cat would welcome the opportunity to chase a fellow mammal. Being limited to the occasional insect hardly satisfies his hunting instinct.

And, he still wonders why the county board ordinance exempted cats that live in barns. Wouldn’t they be the most likely to run into bats?

The county’s press release follows:

McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH) confirms its 2nd and 3rd rabid bat – both in Woodstock – with one resident undergoing rabies preventative treatment. It is strongly recommended that residents not release a bat but contain it in a room, under a bucket or blanket and keep people away from it.

In order to test bats for rabies, it is important they be in good condition – either alive or recently deceased. Specimens that are in good condition and test negative for rabies eliminates the need for rabies treatment.

McHenry County Animal Control should be contacted immediately. – call (815-459-6222).

The State Health Department has reported 16 rabid bats state-wide. Lake, Kane, Cook and Will County are among those reporting rabid bats in 2010 in addition to central and southern counties.

The best way to avoid rabies is to avoid exposure.

Keely is ready for any bat that menaces the Skinner household.

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system and can only be confirmed in a laboratory.

Residents are encouraged to take a “hands off” approach to wild animals to reduce their risk of exposure. Parents also need to educate their children of the dangers.

Keeping pets up to date with vaccinations will not only keep them from getting rabies but also provide a barrier of protection for you if your animal is bitten by a rabid animal. Most bats leave in the fall or winter to hibernate so these are the best times to “bat-proof” your home.

A bat that is active by day, found in a place where bats are not usually seen (such as in your home, in a swimming pool or on the lawn) or is unable to fly, is more likely than others to be rabid. A rabies fact sheet is available at the Illinois Dept of Public Health.

Questions about exposure should be directed to MCDH’s Communicable Disease Program at 815-334-4500.

The Badmitten may look like he’s in hunting mode above, but a guy can always be vigilant, right?

It's not as if a guy can be alert all the time. It's been four years and I've never seen a bat.

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