Rabies and Australian bat lyssavirus infection | Video, photos, pictures

HEALTH officials have warned people not to touch the flying foxes that are currently roosting in trees in Machattie Park.

Hundreds of grey-headed flying foxes recently arrived in the city-centre park and the community is warned that all types of bats can carry life-threatening diseases such as Australian Bat Lyssavirus.

The rabies-like virus is found in the saliva of infected animals.

Western NSW Local Health District co-ordinator for communicable disease control Priscilla Stanley said while human infections with these viruses are very rare, the animals should not be touched.

“[Australian Bat Lyssavirus] can only be spread to other animals and people through the bite or scratch of a flying fox or bat, not through urine or droppings,” she said.

“If anyone is bitten or scratched by a flying fox or bat the wound should immediately be washed gently but thoroughly with soap and water, an antiseptic, such as povidone-iodine applied, and a doctor consulted as soon as possible.”

In Australia, there have been three confirmed cases of Australian Bat Lyssavirus in humans. All were in Queensland.

“Members of the community should not handle flying foxes unless they have been trained, vaccinated against rabies and use the proper protective equipment,” Ms Stanley said.

If you find an injured or distressed flying fox, do not handle it yourself. Call WIRES on 1300 094 737.

If anyone is bitten or scratched by a flying fox or bat the wound should immediately be washed gently but thoroughly with soap and water, an antiseptic, such as povidone-iodine applied, and a doctor consulted as soon as possible.

Western NSW Local Health District co-ordinator for communicable disease control Priscilla Stanley

An Office of Environment and Heritage said grey-headed flying foxes are listed as a vulnerable species in NSW.

“In Bathurst we usually see little red flying foxes, but it’s not totally unknown for grey-headed flying foxes to come here. This is not their usual camp,” she said.

“Flying foxes follow food reserves and there is a lot of vegetation flowering at the moment.”

The distribution shown is generalised from the Departments Species of National Environmental Significance dataset. This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. Some species information is withheld in line with sensitive species polices.

The distribution shown is generalised from the Departments Species of National Environmental Significance dataset. This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. Some species information is withheld in line with sensitive species polices.