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Council warns of health risk posed by native bat species

24 July 2019

Wattle Range Council is advising residents to be wary of contact with a specific breed of bat following a warning from SA Health. 

Council has been notified by SA Health that there has been a large colony of native grey-headed flying foxes sighted in a pine forest near Millicent.

Grey-headed flying foxes can carry a rabies like infection called Australian Bat Lyssavirus, a virus that can be transmitted from bats to humans.

Within South Australia, all species of bats are protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972. Bats, including flying foxes, are native throughout Australia and play an important role in the ecosystem, and are also associated with illness in humans and other animals. 

Australian Bat Lyssavirus is spread commonly through a bite or scratch, but also through exposure to bat saliva through the eyes, nose or mouth. If treatment is delayed until after the onset of the symptoms, there is no known cure and the condition is deadly. There have been three cases in Australia since 1996, all of which were fatal.

If a person is scratched, bitten or has come into contact with bat saliva, they should wash the area with soap and water for at least 5 minutes, apply antiseptic and contact hospital emergency department immediately.

Wattle Range Council Chief Executive Officer, Ben Gower warned the public not to touch living, injured or dead flying foxes.

“Bats must only be handled by an appropriately trained and vaccinated person. Infected bats may not show any symptoms of illness”.

“People who come across a dead, sick or injured flying fox must not touch the bat and should contact Sue of Fauna Rescue SA on 0475 132 093 or their 24 hour Helpline on 8279 0896, to arrange for removal of the bat”.

“Special consideration should also be given to the education of children, highlighting to them the health risks associated with handling bats,” Mr Gower said.

For further information please contact Council’s Environmental Health Officer, Catarina Santos on 8733 0900, or visit the SA Health website to access their fact sheet on bats:  

Staying safe around Bats – Public Health Fact Sheet #705

 

  

For further information on this release please contact:

Ben Gower, Chief Executive Officer
Email:                       council@wattlerange.sa.gov.au
Telephone:               (08) 8733 0900

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