Bat House ordered to stop
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