Flying fox

Australian bat lyssavirus and your pet

Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV) is a virus of flying foxes which can, in rare cases, cause fatal disease of the nervous system in people and animals.

All Australian bat species can carry the virus. It is present in less than one per cent of the wild bat population, although up to 30% of sick, injured or orphaned bats can be affected.

Australian bat lyssavirus is closely related to rabies, which is not found in Australia.

Bat lyssavirus in the NT

The virus has been confirmed in Northern Territory (NT) bats four times since 2000, however there has been no infection of humans or other animals.

Veterinarians and pet owners should be aware of the risk of ABLV. They also need to know what to do if a sick or injured bat is found, or a pet or person is exposed to the virus.

Information for veterinarians

Veterinarians, veterinary assistants and carers handling bats should have a current rabies vaccination.

For more information and advice about handling bats and animals that could be infected with ABLV, read the following publications:

If you're treating pets which have been exposed to bats, use the following application.

Application for use of rabies vaccine PDF (594.9 KB)
Application for use of rabies vaccine DOCX (64.2 KB)

To use the rabies vaccine or supply it to others, you must also get a permit from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

For more information, go to the APVMA website.

Information for pet owners

For information and advice about what to do if you find a sick or injured bat, or you suspect your pet has been scratched or bitten by a bat, read the ABLV information for pet owners PDF (2.6 MB).

If your pet has been tested for ABLV, you should take precautions while waiting for the test results. Read the waiting for ABLV test results information sheet PDF (2.5 MB).

Further information

For more information, read ABLV.

Wildlife Health Australia also supports a group with an interest in bat health issues. For more information, go to the Wildlife Health Australia website.

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Last updated: 20 September 2022

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