Published On: Mon, May 20th, 2013

Australian Veterinary Association warns vets, horse owners after Australian bat lyssavirus confirmed in horse

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is warning veterinarians and horse owners of the potential risk of a rabies-like virus recently confirmed in a horse, according to a AVA media release today.

Micro-bat Image/Video Screen Shot

Image/Video Screen Shot

The horse in question was confirmed positive with Australian bat lyssavirus, the first such case seen in a horse according to an AVA spokesman.

“This is the first time we have seen this virus in a horse, so there are a lot of unknowns at this point,” said AVA spokesperson Dr Chris Reardon.

“In the past, people have become infected with the deadly lyssavirus by being scratched or bitten by a flying fox or micro-bat, and we don’t know whether a horse could infect a human or not. We’ll be very keen to hear more information as the Queensland government investigates this case.

“In the meantime, it’s essential that people stay away from flying foxes. Don’t handle them under any circumstances unless you’ve been vaccinated.

“Horse owners need to call their vet straight away if they notice any signs of illness, and keep sick horses away from people and other animals. Making sure you wash your hands and maintain good hygiene around sick horses is always a good idea, and these measures will be helpful in preventing infection from a sick horse.

“Australian bat lyssavirus is similar to rabies, but a completely different virus. The rabies vaccine works against lyssavirus because of the similarity between the two,” said Dr Reardon.

According to Queensland Health:

  • Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABL) is closely related to the rabies virus.
  • The best protection against being exposed to the virus is to avoid handling bats or flying foxes.
  • There is no known risk of contracting ABL from bats flying overhead, contact with bat urine or feces or from fruit they may have eaten.  Living, playing or walking near bat roosting areas does not pose a risk of exposure to the virus.
  • A bat bite, scratch or mucous membrane exposure to bat saliva is necessary to transmit the virus. Usually bats do not approach humans, more commonly bat scratches or bites occur if someone is trying to ‘rescue’ an injured, sick or distressed bat.
  • It is recommended that for any person who has been bitten, scratched, or had a mucous membrance exposure to bat saliva that treatment be commenced as soon as possible. Treatment involves a course of vaccinations that are necessary to protect the person against ABL.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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