Australian Bat Lyssavirus Virus (ABLV) information for Clinicians

Australian Bat Lyssavirus Virus (ABLV) information for Clinicians

21 February 2013

  • A case of Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABLV) infection has been diagnosed in Queensland
  • Patients with a history of bat bites and/or scratches should be treated to prevent infection from this potentially fatal disease

Background Information

  • ABLV is a virus carried by bats and is closely related to rabies. It rarely infects humans.
  • An 8 year old child from Queensland has recently been diagnosed with ABLV infection following a bite or scratch from a bat. Two previous cases of human infection with ABLV have been recorded, both in Queensland in the mid-1990s following bites and/or scratches from bats. Both people died.
  • Following the media surrounding the recent Queensland case of ABLV last week, there may be an increase in the number of patients seeking treatment following bat bites or scratches.
  • All bats, including flying foxes and micro bats, are considered potential sources of infection.
  • A person is at risk of ABLV if they have been bitten, scratched or had mucous membrane or broken skin exposure to bat salvia or neural tissue (regardless of the length of time since the exposure) and has not received post-exposure prophylaxis.
  • For people who have been bitten or scratched by a bat:
    1. Recent wounds should be washed thoroughly with soap and running water for at least 5 minutes followed by the application of an antiseptic containing povidine-iodine or alcohol.
    2. Contact your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055 for advice and to obtain free post exposure treatment (Rabies Immunoglobulin and a course of rabies vaccine), if indicated.
    3. Administer a tetanus booster if needed Exposure to bat faeces or urine is not considered a risk for ABLV.

Further Information

  • Rabies and Australian Bat Lyssavirus Fact Sheet: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/factsheets/guideline/rabies.html
  • Queensland Health media release: http://www.health.qld.gov.au/news/media_releases/2013-releases/february-2013/lyssavirus130215.pdf

Dr Jeremy McAnulty,Director, Health Protection NSW

20 February 2013