File Photo | Lake County Health Department.

The state and the Lake County Health Department are investigating after dozens of dogs, some with rabies, were flown to Illinois. Several of them went through Lake County.

The Lake County Health Department said they are assisting the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) after a group of 33 dogs was imported from Azerbaijan through O’Hare Airport last week.

The investigation began after one of the dogs was transferred to Pennsylvania where it began exhibiting behaviors consistent with rabies and was euthanized.

Lake County Health Department Spokeswoman Emily Young said that it was later confirmed that the dog tested positive for rabies.

Because all 33 dogs were transported as a group, the remaining dogs are presumed to have come in contact with the rabid dog and need to be located and receive a veterinary evaluation, Young said.

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Four dogs from the group are known to have gone through Lake County, though two were immediately sent to other states.

The two remaining dogs in Lake County have received a veterinary examination and are required to be quarantined by IDPH for 45 days.

Young said that dog rabies has effectively been eliminated in the United States since 2007.

Starting in July 2021, there is a temporary suspension that will prohibit the entry of dogs into the United States from 113 high-risk countries.

“Cases of dog rabies are extremely rare in the United States,“ said Larry Mackey, Director of Environmental Health at the Lake County Health Department.

“However, it is important to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions with pets and wild animals you may encounter,” Mackey said.

Rabies virus is transmitted through direct contact, such as broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth, with saliva or brain/nervous system tissue from an infected animal.

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People usually get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal.

Rabies infects the central nervous system, causing disease in the brain and eventually death.

Early symptoms of rabies in people include fever, headache and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear, including insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation, difficulty swallowing and hydrophobia.

Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms, Young said.

Residents are urged to not feed, touch or adopt wild animals or stray dogs and cats.