The Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control wants you to understand the dangers rabies can pose and take precautions to protect yourself and your pets.

Rabies is, with rare exception, fatal to humans. It is a preventable virus that causes inflammation of the brain in mammals. Rabies is transmitted through saliva and spread when an infected animal scratches or bites another animal or human.

The incubation period for rabies is usually one to three months. It is important to seek medical treatment after a bite from an unknown animal because once symptoms appear, the disease is almost always fatal. Symptoms of rabies may include: an extreme or irrational fear of water, drooling, excessive salivation, dizziness, fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, delirium, fear, hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, muscle spasms, paralysis, sensitivity to light and aggression.

Rabies in dogs can be seen in two forms – furious and somnolent. In the furious form dogs are very aggressive and snap at anything around them. In the somnolent form, dogs are weak and unaware. Cats always show the furious form of the disease. Skunks and raccoons often show symptoms that are non-specific. This is why you should avoid any “sick” acting wildlife and notify authorities.

In the United States, rabies is most commonly transmitted by bats. But it is important to note that most bats are not infected with rabies. In fact, only about 6 percent of weak or sick bats captured by animal control officials in the U.S. test positive for the rabies virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other common carriers of rabies include skunks, raccoons and foxes.

The Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control reminds residents to make sure pets are current on rabies and all other vaccines. It is important to vaccinate both dogs and cats. The department hosts low-cost rabies clinics around Cook County to ensure that residents have access to life-saving vaccinations for their pets. To find a clinic near you, click here.

The department also urges residents not to handle any wild animals. If you find a sick or dead bat, contact your local animal control or police department.

An average of approximately 25 rabid bats are found in Cook County each year. The following is a list of locations in the County where bats who’ve tested positive for rabies in 2019 were found:

6/4/2019-2226 W. Pratt Blvd., Chicago, IL 60645

7/16/2019-4700 Block Karlov Ave., Chicago, IL