Lyssavirus warning on over-heated bats

NSW Health has warned large numbers of bats have died in the recent hot weather and bushfires and urged the public not to handle injured or heat-stressed bats as their scratches and bites can pass on the deadly lyssavirus.

It is concerned people may pick up and attempt to rescue bats that are injured, heat-stressed or tangled in fence wire.

The department said there have been two reports of bat bites in the Nowra area, where bushfires have been burning.

Director of Health Protection NSW Dr Jeremy McAnulty said lyssavirus was rare and only transmitted through bites and scratches.

“Many people are bitten every year and people should assume that all bats and flying foxes are infectious, regardless of whether the animal looks sick or not,” he said.