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Disease

The greatest concern to residents is the potential health issues associated with flying-foxes.

Human infections from viruses borne by flying foxes are very rare. To date, there have only been three confirmed cases of Australian Bat Lyssavirus in humans, all of these cases were in Queensland. There have been just seven confirmed cases of Hendra virus in humans, also all in Queensland.

You can access NSW Health's fact sheets that give up-to-date advice on managing human health risks associated with flying foxes:

 

   

  • Flying fox faeces, urine and blood: The latest information from the NSW Department of Health is that there are no reports of Australian Bat Lyssavirus being spread by contact or exposure to flying fox faeces, urine or blood. Living, playing or walking near bat roosting areas also poses no risk of the disease as long as flying foxes are not handled. Using soap and water to wash hands after accidental touching of flying fox faeces, urine or blood is an adequate hygiene standard.
  • Horses and Hendra virus: There is no evidence of human to human, bat to human, bat to dog, or dog to human transmission of Hendra virus. It is thought that horses may contract Hendra virus infection from eating food recently contaminated by flying fox urine, saliva or other body fluids. All confirmed human cases to date had became infected following high level of exposure to body fluids of an infected horse, such as doing autopsies on horses without wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, or being extensively sprayed with mucous from infected horses.  Detailed advice on managing equine health risks is available on the NSW Department of Primary Industries website.
  • Bites or scratches from flying foxes: If you are bitten or scratched by a flying fox, gently but thoroughly wash the wound immediately with soap and water for at least five minutes. Apply an antiseptic such as povidone-iodine, and consult a doctor as soon as possible. It is recommended that you do not handle flying foxes.