Australian Bat Lyssavirus

Since its discovery in 1996 Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABL) has been found in mega-chiropteran (eg. flying foxes, fruit bats and blossom bats) and micro-chiropteran (insectivorous) bat populations in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, and experts recommend that people assume that all bats across Australia are potentially infected.

Australian Bat Lyssavirus can be transmitted from bats to humans, and while this is rare, it has caused fatal infections.

The Victorian Department of Health recently issued a press release (25 May 2011) regarding the detection of Australian Bat Lyssavirus in a flying fox at Bairnsdale in East Gippsland and, as a consequence, the Department is recommending that vaccination be provided for persons who regularly handle flying foxes.

Monash University is requesting that Schools/Departments identify any staff or students who may be in the following high risk groups for exposure:

  • bat handlers and bat researchers
  • veterinarians and associated staff who may come into contact with bats
  • persons involved in field or other activities that may lead to direct contact with bats.

If staff or students are identified in these or other high risk groups please contact the OH&S Branch on ext. 51016 for further advice and assistance to ensure your ongoing safety and responsibilities.

In addition Monash University is recommending that any groups directly involved in research with ABL and other members of the Lyssavirus group ensure that their project risk assessments are reviewed.

References

Media release: Health Warning on Flying Foxes - Department of Health
http://www.health.vic.gov.au/media/health-warning-on-flying-foxes-25may-2011.htm#

Lyssavirus | Better Health Channel
http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Lyssavirus?open

Procedures for Immunisation
http://www.monash.edu.au/ohs/topics/procedures/immunisation.pdf

Using biologicals and animals at Monash University
http://www.monash.edu.au/ohs/topics/procedures/using-biologicals.pdf

Regulatory Issues, Animal Care and Use in Research and Teaching at Monash University
http://www.monash.edu.au/researchoffice/animal/moreinfo/traininghandouts.html