From 1968 to 1986, Illinois (USA) citizens and agencies submitted 4,272 bats to the Illinois Department of Public Health for rabies testing. Of this number, 6% tested positive, a rate comparable to similar studies from other parts of North America. Due to sampling biases, the true infection rate among bats in Illinois is probably lower than 6%. Additional analysis relied on a subsample (n =2,433) of the specimens collected from 1965 to 1986. Prevalences were significantly different among years, but no linear trends were found over the study period. Evidence for a local outbreak of bat rabies was found. Prevalences for the species with sample sizes adequate for statistical analysis were, from high to low: hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus), 11%; red bat (L. borealis), 5%; silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans), 4%; little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), 4%; big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), 3%; Keen's bat (Myotis keenii), 2%; and evening bat (Nycticeius humeralis), 2%. The higher prevalences found among the non-colonial species (hoary, red and silver-haired bats) were consistent with similar studies. Considerable annual variation in prevalences was found within species, and the prevalence rankings of the species varied over the study period. Prevalences were significantly higher in females (6%) than in males (4%) when species were pooled, but no significant differences between sexes were found within species. In contrast to the other species analyzed, all of which had sex ratios favoring females, the big brown bat sample had a large majority of males. Prevalences were significantly higher in adults (6%) than in juveniles (3%) when species were pooled. Within individual species, significant differences between age groups were found only for hoary and red bats; in two species, juveniles had higher prevalences. Above average prevalences were observed in May and August to November. Southern Illinois had the highest prevalences; prevalences were intermediate in the north and lowest in the central region. Overall, the patterns of rabies prevalence among bats submitted by the public in Illinois from 1965 to 1986 were similar to those reported from other parts of North America.
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Vol. 25 • No. 1