Cook County health officials warn of increased rabies risk

OAK FOREST, Ill. (AP) _ Health officials are warning people to avoid exposure to rabies after a bat tested positive for the virus in the Chicago suburbs.

The Cook County Department of Public Health says the bat found in LaGrange Park was the first in suburban Cook County to test positive for rabies this year.

They say bats become active this time of year, increasing the risk of exposure. People may contract rabies through a scratch, bite or saliva from an infected animal. The virus affects the nervous system and can be fatal if untreated.

Dr. Terry Mason is chief operating officer for the public health department. Mason says if people find themselves in close proximity to a bat they should call animal control. Don’t try to touch, destroy or remove it from the home.