Bat bites spike after hot spell, sparks warning
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.
Amanda Milligan from FNQ Wildlife Care examines dead flying foxes that fell from trees at Murray St, Manoora.