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Deadly virus is found in bats in South Australia

Deadly virus is found in bats in South Australia – as experts warn the ‘rabies-like disease’ can KILL humans if untreated

  • Two exposures last month involved bats carrying Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABL)
  • This is the third time ABL had been confirmed in bats in South Australia
  • ABL is a rabies-like disease that can be transmitted to humans if they are bitten
  • If treatment is delayed until after the onset of symptoms, it could be fatal
  • Anyone bitten or scratched by a bat should clean the area and apply antiseptic

A deadly virus has been found in bats in South Australia, prompting experts to warn the ‘rabies-like disease’ could kill humans if untreated.

SA Health released a statement on Thursday urging locals heading outdoors to avoid any contact with bats.

Dr Louise Flood, the Department for Health and Wellbeing’s Communicable Disease Control Branch, said this is the third time Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABL) had been confirmed in bats in South Australia.

‘ABL is a rabies-like disease that can be transmitted to humans if they are bitten or scratched by an infected bat and if treatment is delayed until after the onset of symptoms, the condition is invariably fatal,’ Dr Flood said. 

A deadly virus has been found in bats in South Australia , prompting experts to warn the ‘rabies-like disease’ could kill humans if untreated (stock photo)

If treatment is delayed until after the onset of symptoms, the condition is 'invariably fatal', doctors have warned

If treatment is delayed until after the onset of symptoms, the condition is ‘invariably fatal’, doctors have warned 

‘While only one per cent of bats usually carry ABL, these two recent exposures are concerning and is an important reminder that bats should only ever be handled by appropriately trained and vaccinated animal handlers.

‘While the development of ABL from bat bites or scratches can be prevented through prompt wound management and post exposure prophylaxis, it is important to avoid contact in the first place.’

Dr Mary Carr from the Department of Primary Industries warned pet owners to keep their animals away from bats. 

‘If you suspect your animal has been either bitten or scratched by a bat please contact your local vet or the Emergency Animal Disease hotline on 1800 675 888,’ she said.

Last year there were nine cases of humans being exposed to bats that required precautionary treatment, including rabies vaccine.

Anyone bitten or scratched by a bat, or who has come into contact with bat saliva, should immediately clean the area for at least five minutes and apply an antiseptic.  

Anyone bitten or scratched by a bat, or who has come into contact with bat saliva, should immediately clean the area for at least five minutes and apply an antiseptic

Anyone bitten or scratched by a bat, or who has come into contact with bat saliva, should immediately clean the area for at least five minutes and apply an antiseptic

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