Children should not handle flying foxes.
Children should not handle flying foxes. Peter Holt

Boy in critical condition after contracting Lyssavirus

AN EIGHT-year-old boy is in a critical, but stable condition in a Brisbane Hospital after contracting Australian Bat Lyssavirus infection (ABLV), reportedly while he was in the Whitsundays about two months ago.

The boy is believed to be from Cairns and although media has speculated he was scratched or bitten by a bat in the Whitsundays, Queensland Health has not revealed this.

Queensland Health chief officer Dr Jeannette Young on Monday said the boy was in intensive care in Brisbane.

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

"Only people who have been trained in the care of bats and who have been vaccinated against rabies, should ever handle bats or flying foxes," she said.

"It is important to also encourage young children to never handle bats, particularly if they should come across a sick or injured one."

She said the time between exposure to the virus and development of symptoms varied widely and that treatment following a bat scratch or bite required a series of injections.

The injections were designed to prevent infection, regardless of how long ago the bite or scratch occurred.

Meanwhile Australian Wildlife Central Queensland president Dot Spooner said she'd been handling bats in the region for more than 40 years. "Lyssavirus is spread by saliva in bats," Ms Spooner said.

"If you get scratched, go inside straight away and wash the wound with disinfectant which should kill any bacteria that's there. But if they're bitten they should go to hospital straight away."

Ms Spooner said people should make sure they know what to do should they come across a bat.

"If you find one ring the wildlife number," she said.

"People should be more aware of bats and teach kids in particular not to touch them." Queensland Health advises any person who has been scratched or bitten by a bat, who did not seek medical attention at the time, should now seek advice by calling 13 432 584.

If you find a sick or injured bat phone the Australian Wildlife Rescue Service, Central Queensland on 0447 543 268.



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