Public Health Unit issues bat warning

West Moreton Health’s Public Health Unit is reminding residents not to touch or pick up bats and flying foxes, even if they appear sick or injured.

The animals carry bacteria and viruses that can be harmful to humans, especially the Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABLV).

ABLV is a serious and fatal virus in humans that attacks the nervous system, similar to rabies.

West Moreton Health Public Health physician Dr Penny Hutchinson said 99 per cent of bat exposures occurred when people touched or handled bats.

"The only people who should handle bats and flying foxes are trained handlers who are vaccinated and have appropriate protective equipment," Dr Hutchinson said.

"It is currently bat breeding season, so we are going to see more bats around the region.

"Over the past month, there has been an increase in the number of bat exposures reported to Queensland Health across the state."

If you find a bat stuck on a fence, in bird netting or on the ground, do not touch it. Contact the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) or Bat Conservation and Rescue Queensland on 0488 228 134.

In the event someone is bitten or scratched by a bat, or exposed to bat saliva through the eyes, nose, or mouth, follow the steps below:

  • Do not scrub the wound. Instead, wash the wound gently and thoroughly for five minutes with soap and water.
  • If available, apply an antiseptic with anti-virus action such as povidone-iodine, iodine tincture, aqueous iodine solution or alcohol (ethanol).
  • If bat saliva has got in the eyes, nose or mouth, flush the area thoroughly with water.
  • Contact a doctor, 13HEALTH, your local Public Health Unit or the nearest hospital immediately to start post-exposure treatment.
  • Contact the RSPCA hotline on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) or a wildlife carer to collect the bat for testing, if it is available.