Western NSW Local Health District is warning the community about the dangers of touching bats.
Western NSW Local Health District’s Coordinator for Communicable Disease Control Priscilla Stanley said that all types of bats can carry life threatening diseases such as Australian Bat Lyssavirus, a rabies-like virus.
"Australian Bat Lyssavirus is found in the saliva of infected animals and can only be spread to other animals and people through the bite or scratch of a flying fox or bat, not through urine or droppings," said Ms Stanley.
Human infections with these viruses are very rare. In Australia, there have been three confirmed cases of Australian Bat Lyssavirus in humans. All were in Queensland.
"Members of the community should not handle flying foxes unless they have been trained, vaccinated against rabies and use the proper protective equipment."
"If anyone is bitten or scratched by a flying fox or bat the wound should immediately be washed gently but thoroughly with soap and water, an antiseptic, such as povidone-iodine applied, and a doctor consulted as soon as possible to assess the need for further treatment."
The message for today and the future is simple – Don’t touch bats!
If you find an injured or distressed flying fox, do not attempt to handle it yourself. Call your local wildlife rescue service WIRES on 1300 094 737.