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 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 lyssavirus, read the following publications:

Use the following forms if you are treating pets which have been exposed to bats:

To use the rabies vaccine or supply it to others, you will also need a permit from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). Go to the APVMA website for the form for a permit to allow supply and minor use of an unregistered Agvet chemical product. 

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 sheet.

If your pet has been tested for lyssavirus, you should take precautions while you are waiting for the test results. Read the information sheet for advice.

Further information

For more information go to Australian bat lyssavirus.

Wildlife Health Australia supports a group with an interest in bat health issues. Go to the Wildlife Health Australia website for more information.

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Last updated: 26 September 2017