Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cairns Pet News in the Cairns Post: Virus fears in mutant bats in Cairns

Cairns Pet News commented on the Daniel Bateman's Cairns Post Article Mystery of the mutant baby bats, warning of the risk of zoonotic diseases in humans who handle bats, especially sick bats.  Daniel Bateman ran a follow up story  Virus fears in mutant bats in Cairns addressing this issue.  Cairns Vet Clinic has a large bat colony in our back yard at 76 Pease St Manunda, and we have also dealt with suspect Hendra virus cases, so we make a point of being well informed of bat viruses and other zoonotic diseases (Animal infections which can cause human illness). --
Read more about Cairns Bat Virus Fears

Virus fears in mutant bats in Cairns

Daniel Bateman

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

© The Cairns Post


A VIRUS may be responsible for causing deformities in bats among the permanent colony at Cairns library in the city, a vet says.

The State Government and CSIRO are investigating why more than 100 newborn spectacled flying foxes with deformities such as cleft palates and twisted limbs have been found underneath trees near the library colony since the start of the year.

A James Cook University researcher studying the bats believed the cause may be related to chemical spraying or some other environmental stress.

Dallas McMillan, a veterinarian at the Cairns Vet Clinic, said some viral infections in animals could cause birth defects and abortion.

"When you get a big outbreak like that, often it is an infection or an environmental toxin," Dr McMillan said.

He suggested flying foxes eating poisonous weeds could also be the reason behind the deformities.

"If they have access to some weed that is poisonous - there are lots of weeds that can cause abnormalities in people and animals," Mr McMillan said.

Until the exact cause of the abnormalities was determined, Mr McMillan said it was important people did not touch or go near the flying foxes.

"These birth defects would often cause other health problems such as immunosuppression which makes bats more vulnerable to viral infections such as lyssa virus and hendra virus, which may increase the risk of infections in humans and other species," Mr McMillan said.

"Thus aborted, stillborn or deformed bats may pose a greater-than-normal risk of viral infection and be handled as possibly infectious."

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