Public health reminder to avoid handling bats

Public health vigilance has resulted in no Lyssavirus notifications among NSW residents in the past four years.


NORTH Coast NSW residents, especially those living near bat colonies, are reminded to avoid handling or touching injured or dead flying-foxes and microbats.

According to the Bellingen Shire Council website the Bellingen Shire is home to five active flying-fox camps; two are within walking distance of the township, Bellingen Island camp and Bellingen Community Gardens camp.

As we come into summer, these and other bats can be more active.

Large numbers of bat deaths usually occur following heat waves, or when they are unable to find enough food.
Bats can carry a number of viruses, including Australian Bat Lyssavirus that can be very dangerous to humans if bitten or scratched.

North Coast Public Health Unit Director Paul Corben said if you find an injured or distressed flying fox or microbat, do not attempt to handle it yourself.

“You may put yourself at risk, and also cause more harm to the bat.

“So call your local authorised wildlife rehabilitation group or a local veterinarian,” Mr Corben said.

“If you must touch a dead bat, avoid directly handling it.

“Use a shovel or other implement and wear thick gloves to pick up the dead bat and dispose of its body by deep burial.

“You should only handle flying foxes or microbats if you have been trained by a reputable wildlife organisation, vaccinated against Lyssaviruses and use appropriate protective equipment,” Mr Corben said.

The health advice is if you or your children are bitten or scratched by a flying fox or microbat you should wash the wound immediately with soap and water, apply an antiseptic such as povidone-iodine and consult a doctor straight away.

If you do happen to get bitten or scratched by a bat or flying fox NSW Health provides post-exposure treatment and vaccinations for people in NSW in addition to the recommended wound care process.


By Sandra MOON

2 thoughts on “Public health reminder to avoid handling bats

  1. Any flying-fox by itself through the day is in trouble.
    Don’t touch but please phone the nearest wildlife rescue

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