3rd bat found at Palos Heights hospital

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A third bat was discovered at Palos Community Hospital in Palos Heights. (WLS)

A third bat was discovered at Palos Community Hospital in southwest suburban Palos Heights over the weekend.

The obstetrics unit was slated to reopen this weekend, but after the bat discovery, the opening was delayed.

Wildlife remediation experts on site, a hospital spokesperson said.

Earlier this month, two bats were discovered at the hospital. One tested positive for rabies, the other tested negative.

The third bat will not be tested for rabies as there was no human contact and no potential exposure, according to a Cook County Department of Public Health spokesperson.

"My main concern is for the possibility that one of those bats might be carrying rabies," said Dr. Ronald Hershow, an associate professor of medicine and public health at the University of Illinois-Chicago School of Public Health.

Hershow said bat bites are an obvious concern, but just being exposed to a bat's saliva is also a problem.

"The most common way people acquire rabies or get a skin soft tissue infection from a bat or any other animal is by being bitten," Hershow said. "But there are cases where people come in contact with saliva."

A Palos Community Hospital spokesperson and health officials said that does not appear to be the case at this hospital.

And although the rabies vaccine is available to patients and employees here, only one worker is taking it as a precaution.

Meantime, a hospital spokesperson said Wednesday in a statement: "Our top priority remains the safety of our patients and staff and as such, the unit will remain closed until we are assured the problem is fully remediated. At no time were patients or staff ever in contact with the animal and the hospital remains open and is able to care for patients."
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