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Caution Urged in Dealing with Injured Bats
Residents in the Hawkesbury, Nepean, Blue Mountains, and Lithgow regions are being reminded to exercise caution when approaching injured or distressed bats as they may carry the fatal disease, lyssavirus. Lyssavirus, closely related to the rabies virus, which has been identified in species of flying foxes/fruit bats and insect-eating microbats. It is assumed that any bat in Australia could potentially carry lyssavirus.
Dr. Victor Carey, the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District Director of Public Health, said it is importance not to attempt to handle an injured bat personally.
“Lyssavirus can be transmitted from bats to humans through infected saliva from a bite or scratch and can easily be contracted through breaks in the skin,” he said.
Dr Carey warns that although an animal may not look ill it still can be infectious without showing visible signs of sickness. “The best way to protect yourself from infection is to leave the handling of the animal to the trained experts. Call your local wildlife rescue group or local veterinarian who can help care for the animal,” he said.
With bats being more active during the summer period, large numbers sometimes succumb to heat exposure or the inability to find sufficient food. Historical data reveals positive lyssavirus cases in bats in and around the region.
In the event of a bat bite or scratch, residents are advised to wash the wound with soap and water for at least fifteen minutes. Following washing, applying an antiseptic solution with anti-virus action is recommended. Seeking immediate medical attention is crucial for further treatment and advice. Rabies can be prevented through urgent vaccination and post-exposure treatment following a bite or scratch.
For additional information go to https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/Rabies-Australian-Bat-Lyssavirus-Infection.aspx