A bat that was removed from a Joliet apartment has tested positive for rabies, the Will County Health Department said Wednesday.
It was one of two bats that Joliet Township Animal Control trapped in the living room of an apartment in the St. Patrick's neighborhood. The woman, whose identity has not been released, is being urged to seek rabies treatment.
Officials don't know how the bats got into the apartment, but speculate there must be some type of opening in the building.
"It's our understanding that these bats had been seen around there previously," said Vic Reato, the county's health media services manager. "That suggests that there may be a structural issue."
The bats were taken to Will County Animal Control and then shipped to the Illinois Department of Public Health for testing. Will County Infectious Disease Control and animal control officials were informed Tuesday that one of the bats did have rabies.
The treatment for rabies is a shot administered four times in a 14-day period, Reato said. The shot is given on the first, third, seventh and 14th day.
The woman's dog and cat were also exposed to the bats, but both pets are current on their rabies vaccinations, officials said.
Rabies is an infectious, viral disease transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected warm-blooded animal. If not treated promptly, rabies in humans is fatal. Although a number of animals can carry rabies, in Illinois, bats remain the primary carrier.
"There hasn't been a raccoon positive in the state in years," Reato said. "It's all bats.
"In other parts of the country it is raccoons. Here, previously, it was skunks."
All 52 animals that tested positive for rabies in Illinois through Aug. 22 were bats. Will County is one of 24 Illinois jurisdictions to have a wildlife rabies confirmation this year.
"It's not that they are bad animals, it's just that we're not meant to share the area with them," Reato said. "It's not really the bat's fault."
Will County Animal Control is available 24 hours daily at 815-462-5633.