Bat bites spike af­ter hot spell, sparks warn­ing

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - LIFESTYLE - Mark Mur­ray

MORE than seven peo­ple have been bit­ten or scratched by bats as a re­sult of ex­treme heat this week.

Di­rec­tor of Trop­i­cal Pub­lic Health Ser­vices, Dr Richard Gair re­newed warn­ings for cau­tion around the an­i­mals for fear some may be in­fected with the po­ten­tially deadly ‘rabies’ like Aus­tralian bat lyssavirus dis­ease (ABLV).

There have been three cases of the in­fec­tion in Aus­tralia; all in Queens­land and all fa­tal (1996, 1998 and 2013).

“We nor­mally see 30 to 40 bat bites or scratches in a year. In the last 24 hours we’ve seen seven,” Dr Gair said.

“We un­der­stand ... it has been bats ac­ci­den­tally fly­ing into peo­ple rather that peo­ple pick­ing them up and help­ing them.

“We’re at­tribut­ing this to the ex­treme heat we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing at the mo­ment.”

There have been mul­ti­ple re­ports of in­jured bats in Port Douglas this week in the Four Mile area while ‘thou­sands’ dropped out of trees in Cairns and Townsville.

Dr Gair im­plored all Far North res­i­dents not to han­dle in­jured an­i­mals and to call a vac­ci­nated wildlife res­cuer.

The ABLV virus can be trans­mit­ted through a bite or scratch or ex­po­sure of the eyes, nose or mouth to bat saliva.

In­jured bats “or those act­ing in a strange man­ner” are more likely to be in­fected with the virus “but even those that ap­pear healthy may be in­fected”.

“All bat scratches and bites re­quire treat­ment, in­clud­ing vac­ci­na­tion, to guard against the de­vel­op­ment of ABLV,” Dr Gair said.

“They can bite through tow­els and even leather gloves so please leave it to the trained bat car­ers, who should be vac­ci­nated against rabies and have the right pro­tec­tive equip­ment.”

Treat­ment should be pro­vided as early as pos­si­ble af­ter a bat bite or scratch but it is still ben­e­fi­cial later as the dis­ease can take years to de­velop.

Pic­ture: DANIEL BATE­MAN

Amanda Mil­li­gan from FNQ Wildlife Care ex­am­ines dead fly­ing foxes that fell from trees at Mur­ray St, Manoora.

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