Increase in bites as colonies of bats flock to Western Downs
AS THE warm weather returns so too do the sights and sounds of colonies of bats and flying foxes moving through the early evening skies above the Western Downs.
Darling Downs Public Health senior medical officer Dr Liam Flynn said, members of the community need to do their best to avoid touching bats and flying foxes.
“We’ve been seeing increased numbers of people being scratched or bitten by bats recently, usually as the result of trying to help a sick or injured animal,” Dr Flynn said.
“While it’s admirable to try to help an animal in need, it’s absolutely imperative that people do not touch bats or flying foxes as they can carry a variety of bacteria or viruses including the deadly Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV).
“If you find a sick or injured bat or flying fox you can call the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625).
“The only people who should touch bats or flying foxes are those who’ve had the necessary rabies vaccination, and who are skilled in the use of correct procedures and personal protective equipment.”
Dr Flynn said despite common misconceptions, the only real threat posed by bats and flying foxes was through direct contact.
“Exposure to bat faeces, urine or blood, or being around an area where bats or flying foxes roost, does not pose a risk of ABLV,” he said.
“ABLV is transmitted to humans from bat saliva, usually as the result of a bite or a scratch, so to minimise the chance of contracting what can be an extremely serious illness, please leave the handling of bats to the appropriately trained people.
“If you do suffer a bite, scratch or exposure to bat saliva please seek medical attention immediately.”