Menu

Increase in bat numbers leads to public health warning

A colony of flying foxes (also known as fruit bats). Photo Kahunapulej/Flickr.com

Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSW LHD) is urging residents to avoid contact with fruit bats (flying foxes) after reports of increased numbers in Northern NSW.

Bats and can carry bacteria and viruses, which can be harmful to humans, including the rare but potentially deadly lyssavirus.

North Coast Public Health Unit’s Acting Director, Greg Bell, said while there have been no cases of human infection with lyssavirus in NSW, people should still be cautious at all times.

‘You cannot tell by looking at a bat whether or not it is carrying the lyssavirus,’ Mr Bell said.

‘In 2017, four bats that bit or scratched humans or pets in NSW were confirmed to have lyssavirus infection although thankfully, none of the people involved contracted the disease.

‘People must always assume bats and flying foxes are infectious and if scratched or bitten they should thoroughly clean the wound for five minutes and seek urgent medical advice.’

Australia-wide only three cases of lyssavirus have been recorded in the last 22 years – all have been in Queensland. Lyssavirus infection can progress to a rabies-like illness, which is fatal.

Mr Bell said anyone finding an injured or distressed bat should never pick it up but call their local wildlife rescue group. Similarly, they should call a vet if pets or other animals are bitten.

‘It is very important parents, teachers and carers educate young children to stay away from bats and flying foxes, to never pick them up or disturb them, which might cause a bite or scratch.

‘Kids should also be taught to tell an adult immediately if they have been scratched or bitten so the wound can be cleaned with soap and water, antiseptic applied and a doctor called,’ Mr Bell said.

What to do if someone is bitten:

 Ensure the wound is thoroughly cleaned by immediately washing the wound for at least five minutes with soap and water
 Apply an antiseptic, such as Betadine
 Seek urgent medical advice.

For more information, check out this fact sheet or call your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055.


2 responses to “Increase in bat numbers leads to public health warning”

  1. Rossco Phillips says:

    Warnings to all native species, including sharks: Stay away from dangerous species called ‘humans’ … contact is usually fatal !!!

  2. Jon says:

    Eradicate all the bats, they’re a filthy creature.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Become a supporter of The Echo

A note from the editorial team

Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.”

Echonetdaily is made possible by the support of all of our advertisers and is brought to you by this week's sponsor Vast Ballina and Falls Festival