Already the tops of some maples are turning orange, signaling the changing seasons. Fall also means a greater propensity for rabid bats -- skunks, too -- in the Chicago region.
Seven rabid bats have been found in suburban Cook County so far this year; three is the south suburbs, including two in Tinley Park and one in Evergreen Park.
The Cook County Department of Public Health advises the public to take extra precautions from exposure to rabid bats.
Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system or humans and other mammals. A person may contract rabies through a bite, scratch or saliva from an infected animal, a county press release said.
Bats are especially active in the late summer and fall, so if you see a bat on the ground, or one gets into your house, do not try to handle it yourself. Call your local animal control department.
To help prevent the spread of rabies, the public health department offers these tip:
If a bat is in your home, do not release the bat outdoors until after speaking with animal control or public health officials. It may be possible to test the bat and avoid the need to receive rabies treatment.
If you wake up to a bat in the room, you may need to be treated for rabies exposure if the bat cannot be tested or located.
Keep vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs, cats, ferrets and other animals you own. Visit the CCDPH website to find low cost Cook County clinics.
Seek immediate veterinary assistance for your pet if your pet is bitten by a wild animal or exposed to a bat. You may not notice if your pet has been scratched or bitten due to bats’ small teeth and nails.
Call your local animal control office about removing stray animals in your neighborhood. Never adopt wild animals, bring them into your home, or try to nurse sick, wild animals to health.
Do not touch, feed or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
Maintain homes and other buildings so bats cannot get inside.
Call your local animal control office to report a bat in your home or a dead bat on your property.
Call the Cook County Department of Public Health at 708-633-4000 to report human exposure to a bat.
For more information about rabies visit the Illinois Department of Public Health. website.