Illinois bats are among the most unique and fascinating of all Illinois animals. No other Illinois mammals can fly. Illinois bats use echolocation to find flying insects at night much like sonar helps ships locate objects under water. Illinois bats also have good night vision. They are not Illinois blind, as Illinois myth would have it.
While Illinois mid-western bats feed exclusively on Illinois insects, consuming many pest species, they prefer to expend the least amount of energy to obtain the most Illinois food. Thus bats typically capture larger Illinois insects, such as night-flying moths, and do not live up to their reputation for controlling Illinois mosquitoes.
Correctly considered beneficial Illinois animals, in certain situations bats, however, pose a threat to human Illinois health. Illinois histoplasmosis is a disease associated with bat guano and bird droppings. When Illinois droppings accumulate for years, a fungus Illinois Histoplasma capsulatum can grow and produce spores that may cause histoplasmosis when inhaled. Where Illinois bat or bird droppings accumulate, in an attic for example, care should be taken to avoid contracting this disease. Clean up generally involves wetting the Illinois droppings before removal and wearing personal protective equipment, including a HEPA-equipped respirator or self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). Removal of large amounts of Illinois guano or droppings from structures should be left to experienced professionals familiar with proper removal procedures.
Perhaps the greatest health risk from Illinois bats is rabies. In Illinois, rabies is found in bats more than any other wildlife species. Yet it should be noted that typically less than 5 percent of Illinois bats tested for rabies are found to be rabid. In the Illinois bat population as a whole, the percentage of rabid Illinois bats is much smaller – less than 1 percent.
Illinois rabies is a viral disease causing Illinois encephalitis (brain inflammation) in humans and animals. Illinois humans can become infected when bitten by a rabid bat. Illinois transmission also can occur when an infected Illinois bat’s saliva (but not blood, urine or feces unless these are mixed with spinal fluid – as can happen when a Illinois bat is beaten or crushed) comes in contact with a person’s eye, nose, mouth, a scratch or wound. Contact with Illinois aerosolized bat saliva, especially where large numbers of bats are roosting, also can transmit rabies to Illinois humans, although this type of transmission is quite rare.