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Rabies Information and Prevention

The Vernon Hills Police Department knows that public education is vital in recognizing and dealing with rabies. The good news is that, in Lake County, bats are the only animals that have tested positive for rabies in over ten years.  However, that does not mean only bats can carry rabies.  Any mammal is susceptible to being infected, so caution and care is recommended when dealing with all wild animals. Simple measures such as keeping your yard free of feeding or nesting places can help control them.

In so far as pets are concerned, all cats and dogs in Lake County must be vaccinated regularly against rabies. That is the law and there are 
no exceptions.  All dogs and cats must wear proof of vaccination ANYTIME they leave their owner's yard.  This is also the law and there are no exceptions.

Disease Prevention
Do not let any person (especially your children) come in contact with any wild animal.  Always stay away from stray domestic and wild animals. If you see one, make noise and back away slowly from it (do not turn and run).  Never touch or let an animal touch a bat, including those lying on the ground. They may not be dead, just ill, and could bite.  Bats, like any wild animal, should be left alone and should never be held barehanded.

Bats
There are positive angles to having bats in our community. Some bats can eat up to 600 insects in an hour, including mosquitoes, damaging moths, beetles, and grasshoppers. The downside is that bats can often find their way into chimneys, gutters and basements through even the smallest of openings. 

Exclude bats in your house by covering chimneys, attics and vents with half-inch hardware cloth screens and by installing draft guards beneath doors, windows and plumbing.  If you get a bat in your house, close the door and contain it.  Do not let it have the opportunity to fly from room to room.  If possible, capture the bat under a large box. Don’t try to pick it up. Keep in mind, they are more afraid of you than you are it. This means that bats, like any wild animal will have the fight or flight response in their nature.  If they cannot leave, they will attack.

Rabies
Rabies can be transmitted by a scratch as well as a bite. In Illinois, bats are the primary carrier of rabies. However, only 3 to 7 percent of bats tested are positive for rabies.

One possible indicator of rabies is that the animal may look intoxicated.  Bats acting in an unusual manner, such as flying in daylight or lying on the ground could be a sign of infection.  Land mammals may foam at the mouth.  They may stagger when walking.  They may also charge at a pet or human rather than trying to run away.  While they may be out during unusual times, wild animals such as skunks, raccoons and foxes may be out in daylight just to feed and may not be infected.

Rabies prophylactic treatment consists of a series of 5 shots over 14 days and can cost between $5,000 and $20,000.  If any suspected animal is released outside, and a person has had sufficient exposure to it that it poses a risk for rabies, that person will need to receive this rabies prophylactic treatment. However, if the animal is contained and tested for rabies and tests negative, that person would not have to get rabies prophylactic treatment. So again, you don't want any physical contact with a wild animal. Stay away.

If the animal cannot be caught alive and it must be killed to prevent its escape, do not damage the head.  The intact brain will be need to be tested for rabies. Never handle the animal, alive or dead, without adequate personal protective equipment.  Wear latex gloves
as well as cloth or leather gloves.  If there has been no risk of physical contact by either a human or domestic pet with the dead animal, it can be bagged and properly disposed of.

Reporting 
You can report any suspected infectious animal to the Vernon Hills Police Department or to the Lake County Animal Care and Control (a division of the Lake County Health Department).  But know this, if the animal does not appear sick to the responding officer, no action will be taken upon it.  Just having a wild animal in the neighborhood is not grounds for action and it will not be removed.  It is the duty of every homeowner to keep their yards free of wild animals.

Resources
Vernon Hills Police Department
Emergency 911
Non-Emergency (847) 362-4449 Press 0

Lake County Health Department
(847) 377-4700
Animal Care and Control web site