Public health warning after infected bat found

West Moreton residents are reminded not to touch bats or flying foxes after an injured animal found in an Ipswich park last week later tested positive to the deadly Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABLV).

Early morning walkers found the ill bat on the ground at Queens Park at 5.30am on Saturday 13 January.

West Moreton Health Public Health physician Dr Penny Hutchinson said the walkers took the right action by contacting authorities rather than attempting to handle the bat themselves.

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

Australian Bat Lyssavirus is a serious and often fatal virus in humans that attacks the nervous system, similar to rabies.

“Ninety-nine per cent of bat exposures occurred through people  handling bats,” Dr Hutchinson said.

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 QLD 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.