HAWKESBURY residents are urged to be vigilant when it comes to bats this breeding season.
Nepean Hospital’s director of public health Dr Bradley Forssman said residents should keep an eye out now more than ever because they can carry a virus called lyssavirus.
‘‘With the start of the breeding season and hot weather, people may come across injured, sick or distressed bats,’’ Dr Forssman said.
‘‘Lyssavirus is a very close relative of the rabies virus which is carried by all four species of Australian fruit bats and at least three species of insectivorous bat.’’
He said everyone should assume that all bats and flying foxes are infectious, regardless of whether the animal looks sick or not.
“We have recently had a bat in the Penrith region that tested positive to lyssavirus and there are others in the state that also tested positive.
“If a person becomes infected with this virus and does not receive prompt treatment, they will almost certainly die from their infection.
‘’Clearly, avoiding this risk by not handling bats is a much better strategy than taking the chance of contracting a very distressing and ultimately fatal disease or going through a lengthy course of vaccinations.’’
If you see a distressed bat, contact WIRES on 1300 094 737 or the Public Health Unit if you have been scratched or bitten on 1300 066 055.