Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease. It can spread to people and pets if they are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal. In the United States, rabies is mostly found in wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes.
In Illinois, almost all cases of animal rabies occur in bats; however, most bats do not carry rabies. In 2021, Kane County Animal Control submitted 50 animal specimens for rabies lab analysis. Of those 50 specimens submitted, 3 bats tested positive for rabies; all of the other animals were negative.
The rabies virus infects the central nervous system. If a person does not receive the appropriate medical care after a potential rabies exposure, the virus can cause disease in the brain, ultimately resulting in death. Rabies can be prevented by vaccinating pets, staying away from wildlife, and seeking medical care after potential exposures before symptoms start.
Because the administration of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is expensive and time consuming, healthcare providers must carefully assess each case to determine if the administration of PEP is warranted. The KCHD Rabies Vaccination Guide for Healthcare Providers (below) helps healthcare staff decide when to administer rabies PEP.