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6th January 2010, 08:49pm - Views: 1224





People Feature Queensland Health 1 image



6 January 2010


Qld Health treats men exposed to Lyssavirus 


Three men bitten by a flying fox while holidaying near the Township of 1770 in Central

Queensland will be treated after the mammal tested positive for Lyssavirus.


Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Christine Selvey said the results of tests for the virus on the

bat have come back positive.


“The men were bitten in separate incidents by a Little Red Flying Fox while at the Joseph

Banks Conservation Park near the Township of 1770 yesterday,” Dr Selvey said.


All three have returned home (to Ipswich, Hervey Bay and Agnes Water respectively) and a

course of post-exposure prophylaxis treatment is being arranged for them.


“They have been given appropriate counselling and information by an experienced public

health nurse,” she said.


“The flying fox was killed and sent to our Coopers Plains laboratory for testing. The men

are being contacted to arrange a course of prophylaxis (preventative treatment).”


Dr Selvey said Queensland Health received 77 reports of bites and/or scratches from flying

foxes or bats last year; 28 of the mammals were available for testing and five tested

positive for Australia bat lyssavirus (ABL).


“The only two known cases of ABL in humans were in the 1990s – 1996 and 1998 – and

both were fatal. Since then we have introduced routine prophylaxis for bat bites and

scratches and there have been no further cases,” Dr Selvey said.


“Most incidents like this are from people handling sick or injured flying foxes.


The Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) and Queensland

Health are urging people to avoid contact with flying foxes and report any bites or scratches

to medical authorities immediately.


DERM Wildlife Director Nick Rigby said the incident serves as a timely reminder to avoid

contact with flying foxes and report any scratches or bites immediately to medical

authorities.


Biosecurity Queensland Principal Veterinary Scientist Dr Janine Barrett said this behaviour

is consistent with flying foxes affected by the Australian lyssavirus. 


“It is highly unusual for bats to approach people. It is also unusual that it was out at the day

time away from a roosting site,” Dr Barrett said. 

People Feature Queensland Health 2 image




“There were no other bats in the immediate area; the nearest colony is 10 kilometres away. 


“If someone comes across an injured or sick bat, they should not touch it but  contact the 

Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM: Phone 1300 130 372).


“They can put people in contact with a licensed and fully-vaccinated wildlife rescuer who is

trained to handle and care for wildlife including bats,” she said.


Prompt treatment following a bat scratch or bite can prevent this serious disease.


There is no significant risk of exposure from living, playing or walking near bat roosting

areas. 


A bat bite, scratch or mucous membrane exposure to bat saliva is necessary to transmit the

virus. Bats do not usually approach humans, more commonly bat scratches or bites occur if

someone is trying to ‘rescue’ an injured, sick or distressed bat.


First Aid advice for anyone bitten or scratched by a bat or exposed to bat saliva through the

eyes, nose or mouth:


1.

Do not scrub the wound. Wash the wound gently but thoroughly for around five

minutes with soap and water. If available, an antiseptic with anti-virus action such as

povidone-iodine, iodine tincture, aqueous iodine solution or alcohol (ethanol) should

be applied after washing.


2.

If bat saliva has got in the eyes, nose or mouth, flush the area thoroughly with water. 


3.

Contact a doctor or the nearest hospital immediately. Treatment involves a course of

vaccinations that is necessary to protect the person against ABL. If the bat is

available and tested and the results are negative for ABL, the course of vaccinations

will not be required.


For more information visit health.qld.gov.au or call 13 HEALTH (13 432 584).


Media contact: Kerry White Ph: 3225 2754




For further information from Department of Environment and Resource Management Media

Services Ph: 3224 7792 or email media@derm.qld.gov.au 








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