North coast residents are being warned to avoid handling or touching dead flying foxes or microbats, with an increase in the numbers of dead flying foxes being found in or around trees following the recent extreme heat.
A spokesperson for Northern NSW Local Health district said, ‘the heat wave has affected local wildlife, particularly fruit bats and flying foxes.[
‘Members of the community should not handle dead flying foxes or microbats unless they have been trained, vaccinated against rabies and use the proper protective equipment.’
‘If you find a dead, injured or distressed flying fox, do not attempt to handle it yourself,’ the spokesperson said.
Instead people are urged to call a local wildlife rescue service WIRES on 1300 094 737, or WIRES Northern Rivers on 6628 1898 (Ballina to Kyogle area), the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers’ 24-hours rescue line 662801866, or Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers on 02 6672 4789.
Members of these services who care for bats have been vaccinated against the virus.
Bites & scratches
If you are bitten or scratched by a flying fox, 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 to assess the need for further treatment.
For more information regarding safely handling flying foxes, visit the NSW Health website http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/factsheets/Pages/flying-foxes.aspx