By Jackie Kostek

WINFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — Bat bites are on the rise in DuPage County, with the county health department saying at least five bats have tested positive for rabies recently.

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As CBS 2’s Jackie Kostek reported Tuesday night, a total of 55 people were also told they should get treatment for potential exposure.

“It can happen so quickly,” said Toni Taylor. “You might not see it.”

Taylor is setting off the alarm bells after her adult son was bit by a bat while mowing the lawn Sunday.

“Something hit him in the back, and it was heavy,” Taylor said. “He brushed it off and went back to his mowing – and whatever it was came back and bit him.”

Taylor’s son didn’t want to go on camera, but she said when he told her about the bite, she implored him to get to the hospital.

“It’s not worth taking a chance,” Taylor said. “‘Oh, it probably wasn’t.’ ‘No, just do it. Just do it.’”

Taylor’s son did go to Northwestern Medicine’s Central DuPage Hospital for treatment – only to find the treatment had run out.

“Unfortunately, we actually had to pull resources from other hospitals because it depleted our supply of the immunoglobulin,” said Dr. Jeff Bohmer.

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Bohmer is the chairman and medical director of the emergency department at Central DuPage. He said bats are most active this time of year, so it’s not necessarily unusual to have patients in for bat exposures.

It was, however, unusual to see several families in just a couple of days.

“Usually it’s fairly sporadic,” Bohmer said.

The DuPage County Health Department said people need to be on alert – as again, five bats have tested positive for rabies so far this year and 55 people were potentially exposed.

While bats typically live in caves or densely forested areas like, doctors say you’re most likely to be exposed or bitten in your own home. Bats can fit through a hole the size of a dime.

“Obviously a bat bite, you’ll know,” Bohmer said. “That nighttime exposure when the person’s sleeping is the issue.”

While Taylor’s son was bitten outside, Dr. Bohmer said most exposures happen inside the home. People may not realize they’ve been exposed if it happens during sleep.

Dr. Bohmer said if a bat is found in the home, you should seek medical attention. Treatments include the topical immunoglobulin and a vaccine, which Dr. Bohmer said are nearly 100 percent effective.

As for Taylor, she says when it comes to bats, it’s pretty simple.

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“You’d rather be safe than sorry,” she said.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff