The DeKalb County Health Department has confirmed its first bat of the year that tested positive for rabies.

The bat was found in Cortland on July 26, according to a news release, which said the bat bit a vaccinated dog, and the dog will receive a vaccination and be monitored at home.

Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system of mammals, including humans who are bitten by an infected animal. Rabies can also be contracted when saliva from a rabid animal gets directly into the eyes, nose, mouth or a wound.

Bats are the primary carriers of rabies in Illinois, and a rabid animal does not have to be aggressive or exhibit other symptoms to have rabies, the release said.

Changes in an animal’s normal behavior, such as difficulty walking or appearance of illness, can be early signs of rabies. A bat active during the day, found on the ground or unable to fly is likely to be rabid and should never be handled.

If a bat is in a home, do not release it outdoors.

Try to cover it with a large can or bucket, and close the door to the room it’s trapped in before calling public health officials, the release said.

Without preventive treatment, rabies is a fatal disease. County health officials said in the release that a person bitten or exposed to a bat should seek immediate medical attention.

Bat bites might not be felt while sleeping, and special consideration also needs to be taken when a bat is found in a child’s room or in a disabled person’s living area.

Treatment with rabies immune globulin and a vaccine series must begin immediately.

All animal bites to humans that occur in DeKalb County must be reported to animal control at 815-748-2427.

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