Livestock Cropping & Pasture General Farm

Lyssa Virus and Pets and Bats

By now most of us are aware of the potential risks associated with handling bats and flying foxes, but we don’t give much thought to possible contact between our pets and them.

Bats & flying foxes are known to be carriers of a number of viruses but there are a couple which particularly concern us where contact with pets is involved.  In addition to Hendra virus, the other is Lyssa Virus, which is similar to the Rabies virus.

Lyssa is a zoonotic virus, meaning that it can be transferred from an animal to humans.  Although not a lot is known about the potential to infect dogs and cats, research so far suggests that there is a risk that the virus could be transmitted to them if they are scratched or bitten, thereby possibly becoming a risk to their owners.

Secondly, there has been a case in Queensland where horses became terminally ill when positive for with Lyssa virus infection.

In Queensland, there is a legal requirement to notify Biosecurity Queensland in the event of potential exposure to the Lyssa virus, e.g. your dog or cat has been bitten or scratched by a bat or flying fox.

Biosecurtiy Qld: 132523-BH or 1800 675 888 – 24/7

When reporting a likely exposure the officer will want as much detail of the contact as possible, such as, when the incident occurred, the extent of the injury/contact and the condition or appearance of the bat.

Members of the public are advised not to handle bats or flying foxes. It is advisable to contact a qualified carer to move an injured animal.  If you are bitten or scratched Qld Health must be notified.

1300 ANIMAL is the RSPCA wildlife hotline.

There is no treatment for Lyssa virus. Avoiding bites and scratches is the best way to avoid infection. The Rabies vaccine is used pre and post exposure for people who have been, or are at risk of, being scratched or bitten.