Dead bats test positive for rabies in Illinois county

Two bats have tested positive for rabies in Stephenson County, northwest of Chicago.

One bat was found dead about two weeks ago southeast of Freeport, the (Freeport) Journal-Standard reported.

The other was found dead last week in a barn in Cedarville.

Stephenson County Animal Control veterinarian William Condie said they are the first positive rabid animals there in at least a decade.

“We’ve tested 100 bats in probably 10 years, and they have all come back negative,” Condie said.

The rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and is spread through bites or scratches.

Symptoms in animals include general sickness, swallowing problems and excessive drooling, slow and unusual movement, no apparent fear of humans and aggression.

Officials say rabies can become fatal in humans after symptoms begin to occur. Deaths can be prevented with a vaccine administered immediately after exposure.