The Will County Health Department issued a warning this week after residents at a home on Midland Avenue in Mokena spied a live bat on the floor of a bedroom closet.
The homeowner covered the bat with a towel and immediately notified animal control officials.
The bat was subsequently captured and shipped to the Illinois Department of Public Health for laboratory analysis. Rabies was confirmed August 29, according to the health department.
No pets were involved, but four people live on the property. After some deliberation, the family elected to begin post-exposure rabies treatment. Will County Animal Control Administrator Lee Schild said September and October are peak months for bat activity.
"We are now right in the middle of the prime season for bat activity and that means people need to exercise extreme caution if contact with a bat is suspected," Schild said.
"Bats found on the ground are a special reason for concern because diseased bats typically have trouble flying. Remember, any contact with a bat is a potential rabies exposure that should be reported to the most appropriate animal control authority as soon as possible."
Human rabies is a vaccine-preventable disease which is almost universally fatal in unimmunized persons. There is no substitute for seeking timely medical intervention after a suspected rabies virus exposure.
"There were no pets involved in this specific incident but it is worth noting that making sure pets are regularly vaccinated is an important factor in minimizing the human rabies threat," Schild added. "Pet vaccinations are really the first line of defense against the potential for rabies transmission to humans."