Pet Health

Bat Lyssavirus

Bats are starving and there’s a greater risk of contact with pets and people. That means a higher risk of exposure to Australian bat lyssavirus.

  • If you see a bat on the ground, don’t touch it and don’t let your pet near it.
  • Contact your local veterinarian if you suspect your pet has been bitten or scratched by a bat.
  • Take all reasonable steps to prevent you pets coming into contact with a bat. That may mean keeping them in at night and checking the yard before letting them out in the morning.

People and animals can be infected with Australian bat lyssavirus if bitten or scratched by an infected bat. Australian bat lyssavirus is usually fatal. If a bat needs help, contact RSPCA Queensland on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) or a local volunteer wildlife care organisation to safely collect the bat.

Read more about Australian bat lyssavirus: https://bit.ly/2mhPfxL

Seek advice from your vet

It is possible a bat could be infected with Australian bat lyssavirus and this could be transmitted to your dog. It’s never too late to seek advice from your vet so please contact your vet about the risk to your dog. If you haven’t already, it’s best to take steps to keep your dog away from bats particularly at night.

If you see a bat, dead or alive, don’t touch it.

Avoid handling a live bat yourself. Only rabies vaccinated people who are experienced in handling bats and using appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g. gloves) should rescue or examine a bat. 

Bats play a key role in the ecosystem and are protected in Australia. 

Australian bat lyssavirus is a virus endemic in Australian bats. It causes an invariably fatal encephalitis (infection and inflammation of the brain) in bats, humans and other animals. 

If you have occupational contact with bats or Australian bat lyssavirus, or if you are a wildlife carer, veterinarian or scientist working with Australian bat lyssavirus, seek medical advice about pre-exposure rabies vaccination.  For further medical information, please contact your local doctor, nearest public health unit, or the 13HEALTH information line (13 43 25 84). 

Safe disposal of bats

It’s better to avoid contact with a bat if possible, including leaving a dead bat where it is. We recommend not touching a bat even if it appears to be dead. If you decide to dispose of a dead bat, the following steps will assist with reducing the risk of exposure. Gently prod the bat first with a long tool (e.g. a shovel, broom or pole) to be sure it is dead. Wear gloves and use a tool to place the bat in a plastic bag that won’t tear easily. Double bag the bat by placing the first bag in a second, strong plastic bag. Dispose of the bag in accordance with your council’s waste disposal requirements. Contact your local council to find out what is appropriate in your area.

Media release Biosecurity Queensland and Queensland Health, issued 23 September 2019

Posted in: Pet Health at 22 October 19