We have worked with flying foxes and bats for many years, they are gentle, facinating and intelligent creatures that deserve
our care and protection.
Some people find bats frightening as their knowledge of them is limited and informed by the historic and mystic image of vampires. These images come from the dark ages, shrouded
in myth and ignorance from a time centuries ago when their image was used to depict evil and the "dark arts". These images persist in fiction but really have nothing to do with the actual facts about the behaviour
and lives of these intriquing and valuable pollinators and seed distributors in our forests.
In 2010 information about these wonderful creatures is available to all who seek to be better informed.
The more we understand our wildlife the easier it will become for us to share their habitat and protect our crops while allowing them to continue maintaining our forest health.
scientific research indicates that if the flying foxes disappear from our landscapes, the health of our forests both eucalypt and rainforest will be threatened over time.
No bats = No forest
Flying Foxes Information Sheet January 2010
Acting Queensland Premier Paul Lucas dismissed the idea of a cull, saying it was neither sensible nor practical.
"The solution is good public education in terms of people coming across sick bats, and
top medical treatment," he said. "But the last thing we want is people trying to shoot bats out of trees when there are hundreds of millions of bats probably in Queensland."
(NB it should be noted that Paul Lucus's estimate of numbers is not an actual estimate but probably an indication of the impractical, unrealistic and inappropriateness
of a cull.)
Medical and flying fox experts backed the government's stance, saying bats normally stayed well away from humans and
only rarely carried disease.
Frank Beard, the acting senior director of Queensland Health's communicable diseases branch, said it was highly unusual for bats to attack humans. "Bats are an important
part of the environment and natural ecosystem and the public health risks posed by bats are negligible as long as people leave them alone," Dr Beard said.
Biosecurity Queensland's principal veterinary scientist, Janine Barrett, said it was extremely unusual for a bat to approach people.
Karen Nilsson, a senior wildlife officer at the Lone Pine sanctuary in
Brisbane, said the suggestion bats should be culled was a knee-jerk and sensationalist reaction.
"Without bats, our forests wouldn't be as healthy," Ms Nilsson said. "They are very important pollinators."
Humans and Lyssa Virus?
To date only two people in Australia have died from Lyssavirus.
The first in November 1996 a Queensland woman who had recently become a bat handler, became ill and in December 1998 a woman from Mackay in
North Queensland was also diagnosed with the disease and later died.
"Living, playing or walking near bat roosting areas do not pose a risk of exposure to Lyssavirus." (www.access.health.qld.gov.au)
Hendra virus - the facts (DPI Qld)
§ Hendra virus is a cause of sporadic disease in horses and humans, and is not related to equine influenza or rabies.
§ While Hendra virus is present in flying fox populations, the risk of horses being infected is very low.
§ In previous situations where Hendra virus has been confirmed, no cases of the infection have
been found in animals other than horses.
§ The few cases of Hendra virus infection in humans have been the result of very close contact with horses infected with the virus. Body fluids or secretions
from an infected animal (horses) are likely to contain the virus.
§ There is no evidence of human-to-human spread of Hendra virus.
§ Since 1994, Hendra virus has been confirmed only 13 times involving about 40 horses and 7 humans.
§ Hendra virus is normally carried by flying foxes; however, these animals should not be targeted for
unnecessary culling. These animals are critical to our environment. They pollinate our native trees and spread seeds. Without them, we wouldn't have our eucalypt forests, rainforests and melaleucas.
Can humans contract Hendra virus?
The few recorded cases of Hendra virus infection in humans have been the result of very close contact with horses infected with the virus.
Queensland contacts Queensland Health whenever Hendra virus is confirmed or strongly suspected and there is a risk of human exposure to the virus. Queensland Health assesses whether any monitoring or medical assistance
There is no evidence of bat to human, human-to-human or human-to-horse spread of Hendra virus.
Persons who come across injured wildlife should contact the nearest Environment Protection Agency (EPA)/wildlife rescuer/carer for assistance.
Tolga Bat Rescue & Research Inc
The Bat Hospital provides updated information on their website
From the site…
Many people have concerns about bats and human health because a very small number of Australian flying foxes (and one species of microbat) have Australian Bat L yssavirus (ABLV). Discovered in June 1996, the virus can
be transmitted to humans who are bitten or scratched. It appears that ABLV is rare in the total bat population, as a Queensland DPI& F study showed none of approximately 300 randomly caught wild bats had the
disease. However the incidence of ABLV in sick or injured bats is higher, at approximately 5 to 10% of bats handed in for testing.
Do not approach sick bats – sick bats hanging low or on the ground are likely to be terrified by your approach – please keep domestic animals away from them as they
too will terrify the animal.
Seek assistance from a trained wildlife rescuer or notify the Dept of Environment