The Peoria City/County Health Department is advising the public about the potential risk of exposure to rabies after a rabid bat was identified in Peoria County. Rabies is a dangerous but preventable viral disease that affects the central nervous system of humans and other mammals. It is often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal like bats, skunks, or raccoons, but domestic animals such as dogs and cats also account for some of the reported rabies cases in the United States.
Becky Spencer, Director of Peoria County Animal Protection Services, cautions residents, "With identification of a bat with rabies in Peoria County, I caution any person having exposure to bats to report that exposure immediately to Peoria County Animal Protection Services and Peoria City/County Health Department to assess the need for rabies treatment."
The following guidelines can help protect people and pets from rabies:
• If you see a bat in your home, leave the room and close the door if possible. Place a towel under the door to block escape and call Peoria County Animal Protection Services (PCAPS) at 309-672-2440. After hours at 309-674-3131. Do not attempt to handle or kill the bat. PCAPS will respond at any time to capture and impound bats that residents have encountered inside the living space of a home in Peoria County.
• Report all animal bites to PCAPS and the Health Department. If someone has been bitten or scratched by a wild or domestic animal, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.
• Notify PCAPS or local Health Department if you suspect you, another household member, or a pet has been exposed, even if the bat was seen in a room with a sleeping child or adult.
• If you find a dead bat in your home, call PCAPS for instructions.
• Tightly close all outside doors to prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas where they might have contact with people and pets.
• Carefully examine your home for holes that might allow bats entry. Any opening larger than a quarter-inch by a half-inch should be caulked. Board up any openings to your attic, basement, porch, or garage. Cap chimneys with screens.
• Be sure dogs and cats are updated on rabies vaccinations by consulting with your veterinarian. Vaccinated pets serve as a buffer between rabid wildlife and humans.
• Do not handle wild or domestic animals that have been trapped. Contact PCAPS for assistance.
• Encourage children to immediately tell an adult if they are bitten or scratched by an animal. Teach children not to approach or to touch any animal they do not know.
For more information about rabies and bats, contact the Peoria County Animal Protection Services at 672-2440 or Peoria City/County Health Department at 679-6603.