Bat House or­dered to stop

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

THE Dain­tree’s Bat House has been forced to stop pub­lic ac­cess to feed­ing and han­dling fly­ing foxes af­ter fears two peo­ple might have been ex­posed to the lyssavirus.

The Bat House, lo­cated in Cape Tribu­la­tion, was given a Pub­lic Health Or­der on Fri­day for not hav­ing ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures in place to pre­vent bat bite or scratch in­juries to both vis­i­tors and staff.

Au­thor­i­ties be­lieve two peo­ple sus­tained bites or scratches at the Bat House in re­cent weeks.

Vol­un­teers look­ing af­ter the bats and vis­i­tors han­dling them had not been ap­pro­pri­ately vac­ci­nated or utilised ap­pro­pri­ate per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment.

Queens­land Health Min­is­ter Lawrence Spring­borg raised the is­sue when he ad­dressed par­lia­ment yes­ter­day and said the lyssavirus is sim­i­lar to ra­bies.

“To date there have only been two known hu­man cases of in­fec­tion, both in Queens­land,” he said.

“Both peo­ple died, one de­vel­oped the dis­ease three weeks af­ter ex­po­sure, the other de­vel­oped it more than two years af­ter ex­po­sure.”

Ex­po­sure to bat saliva that might have got in the eyes, nose or mouth can also put a per­son at risk of con­tract­ing the lyssavirus.

The Bat House is the nick­name for the Cape Tribu­la­tion Trop­i­cal Re­search Cen­tre, which nurses or­phaned bats back to health and has been in op­er­a­tion since 1988.

Min­is­ter Spring­borg told par­lia­ment the Bat House’s li­cence to op­er­ate had ex­pired in 2010 and prior to the ex­pi­ra­tion had al­ready been is­sued with a warn­ing notice from for­mer depart­ment DERM due to poor safety sys­tems in place.

The Pub­lic Health or­der re­quires the Bat House to only al­low vac­ci­nated and trained peo­ple to han­dle bats and re­stricts pub­lic ac­cess to the bats.

Ef­fec­tive treat­ment in­cludes vac­ci­na­tion and if some­one has been ex­posed to bat saliva, been bit­ten or scratched they should contact 13 HEALTH (13 432584) for ad­vice on if they need post ex­po­sure treat­ment.

Hand feed­ing: Fly­ing foxes at the bat house are no longer al­lowed to be fed by the pub­lic

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