Health officials in Kimberley, Western Australia, after detecting Australian bat lyssavirus (ABL) in several sick bats in Broome,  have extended the warning to Pilbara saying that bats there may also carry the deadly relative of the rabies virus, according to an ABC News report today.

Lyssavirus Image/CDC
Lyssavirus Image/CDC

Human cases are rare in Australia, with 3 reported in the past 18 years; however, all were fatal.

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,” Queensland Health Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young said last year after a young boy from Brisbane contracted the virus.

“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. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page