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Published On: Fri, Feb 15th, 2013

Queensland boy hospitalized with confirmed Australian Bat Lyssavirus infection

In what is only the third case of of the rabies-like bat virus in Australia, Queensland health officials report a young child was in intensive care in Brisbane with confirmed Australian Bat Lyssavirus infection (ABLV), according to a Queensland Health media statement Feb. 15.

Lyssavirus Image/CDC

Lyssavirus Image/CDC

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the child was bitten or scratched by a bat approximately two months before becoming ill.

The other two confirmed cases of the serious viral infection occurred in 1996 and 1998.

Dr. Young said it is assumed any bat in Australia could potentially carry the disease. She advises against handling any bat or flying fox, particularly children.

If you are bitten or scratched by a bat, health officials say you need to seek medical attention. “If you have been bitten or scratched, it is very important to properly clean the wound,” Dr. Young advised.

“Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water for at least five minutes. If available, apply an antiseptic such as iodine or alcohol after washing.

“If bat saliva comes into contact with the eyes, nose or mouth, flush the area thoroughly with water, and always seek medical attention.’’

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 faeces 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.

See the National Geographic video about flying foxes

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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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