State Health Department Recognizes World Rabies Day
September 28, 2011 is World Rabies Day,
a global campaign to spread the word about rabies
prevention. With the theme, Working Together to Make
Rabies History!, the World Rabies day initiative was
founded by the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) and the Alliance for Rabies Control
to bring people around the world together to address
rabies control and prevention.
“Rabies can be prevented through increased awareness
and education about the disease, as well as pet
vaccinations,” Illinois Department of Public Health
Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold said. “Preventing and
controlling rabies starts at the community level.
World Rabies Day is an excellent time to talk with a
veterinarian about pet vaccinations and learn what
animals typically transmit rabies and how to avoid
Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system of
humans and other mammals. However, rabies in humans
is 100 percent preventable. Humans can get rabies
after being bitten by an infected animal or when
saliva from a rabid animal gets directly into the
eyes, nose, mouth or a wound. Without medical
treatment, rabies is a fatal disease. If you are
bitten or exposed to a rabid animal, seek immediate
medical attention. Treatment includes rabies immune
globulin and a vaccine series.
In 2010, 117 bats tested positive for rabies in
“You cannot tell by looking at a bat if it is rabid.
The animal does not have to be aggressive or exhibit
other symptoms to have rabies,” said Connie Austin,
state public health veterinarian. “Any wild mammal,
such as a raccoon, skunk, fox, coyote or bat, can
have rabies and transmit it to humans.”
Changes in any animal’s normal behavior, such as
difficulty walking or an overall appearance of
illness, can be early signs of rabies. For example,
rabid skunks, which normally are nocturnal and avoid
contact with people, may approach humans during
daylight hours. A bat that is active during the day,
found on the ground or is unable to fly, is more
likely than others to be rabid. Such bats are often
easily approached, but should never be handled.
The following tips can help prevent the spread of
rabies and protect communities:
• Be a responsible pet owner. Keep vaccinations
up-to-date for all dogs, cats and ferrets.
• Seek immediate veterinary assistance for your pet
if your pet is bitten by a wild animal or exposed to
• Call the local animal control agency to remove
stray animals in your neighborhood.
• Do not handle, feed or unintentionally attract wild
animals with open garbage cans or litter.
• Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your
• Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call
animal control or an animal rescue agency for
• Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals,
wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. Do
not allow children to take wild animals to school for
show and tell. “Love your own, leave other animals
alone” is a good principle for children to learn to
reduce the risk of exposures to rabid animals.
• Maintain homes and other buildings so bats cannot
• If a bat is in your home, do not release the bat
outdoors until after speaking with animal control or
public health officials. If you are able to do so
without putting yourself at risk for physical contact
or being bitten, try to cover the bat with a large
can or bucket, and close the door to the room.
Information about keeping bats out of your home or
buildings can be found by logging on to
Information about rabies can be found at