The McHenry County Department of Health said that a bat found in a young child’s bedroom at a Johnsburg home has tested positive for rabies.
The bat was located in the child’s bedroom on Wednesday, the health department said in a statement.
The McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH) said they contacted the family and the appropriate rabies postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) has been started.
“As soon as an exposure to a positive rabid animal is identified it becomes a medical urgency not an emergency, decisions to initiate PEP should not be delayed,” said Susan Karras, MCDH Director of Public Health Nursing.
Maryellen Howell, Manager of MCDH’s Veterinary Public Health Division, advises people to use a shovel or plastic bag to ensure there is no direct contact between themselves and the bat.
If a live bat is found inside, contain it in a room by closing the door and placing a towel along the bottom. If a bat is found in a main living area and there has been exposure to a person or pet, place an upside-down bucket over the bat if possible.
In both cases, residents are urged to immediately call McHenry County Animal Control at 815-459-6222.
Health officials say it is important the bat is in good condition, either still alive or recently dead, to test it for rabies.
“People should take a hands-off approach to all wild animals to reduce their risk of exposure,” Howell said.
Rabies is a fatal disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system. A bat that is active by day and found in a place where bats are not usually seen, such as a home, or is unable to fly, is potentially rabid.
Children should also be educated to avoid handling wild animals, the health department said. Bats are a protected species and part of the natural habitat.