Urgent public health alert - Bats Queens Park

West Moreton Health are urgently seeking information about four children aged between 2 and 13, who were observed playing with a bat near the Queens Park Nature Centre in Ipswich on Saturday February 3, around 10 am. 

West Moreton Health Public Health physician Dr Penny Hutchinson said recently there had been several bats in this area that had tested positive to Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABLV), and witnesses had reported that the bat was behaving in an abnormal manner. 

“ABLV is a serious and potentially fatal virus. If you or your child had any contact with the bat, immediate action is necessary, even if you don’t have any symptoms,” Dr Hutchinson said.  

“Symptoms can appear from 5 days to several years (most commonly 5 to 8 weeks). If you are concerned that your child may have been exposed to a bat, please contact 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for immediate advice.” 

Dr Hutchinson said ABLV can be transmitted to humans through the bat’s saliva, usually by a scratch or bite. It is not transmissible between humans. 

“If infected, the children may not currently be showing any symptoms, but they can present up to eight weeks later and are generally flu-like - including headache, fever, weakness, and fatigue. We want to make sure they are treated before that stage. 

“It’s important to remind the community that the only people who should handle bats and flying foxes are trained handlers who are vaccinated and have appropriate protective equipment. 

“Ninety-nine per cent of bat exposures occur through people handling bats.” 

If you find a sick, injured or trapped bat, 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. 

For more information on ABLV, visit Australian bat lyssavirus | Health and wellbeing | Queensland Government (www.qld.gov.au)