Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cairns Pet News in the Courier Mail

Cairns Pet News recently warned of the risk of sick bats carrying bat viruses which can human disease.  Animal infections which can cause human disease (called zoonotic diseases) are an important and growing human health concern, especially as human settlements and activities encroach on and disrupt wildlife habitat.
The Courier Mail picked up this story and published virus fears in deformed bat living near Cairns library.
Unfortunately this story focuses on my speculation that viruses may be a cause of the Mystery of the mutant baby bats, but neglects the more important warning that any sick bat can carry infections such as Australian Bat Lyssavirus (which can cause fatal human infections).  ABLV is rare in bats, with less than 1% of most species having been exposed, but 5-10% of sick and injured bats are infected with ABLV, thus these animals pose a serious potential human health risk. 
If you find a sick or injured bat, do not touch it.   Contact FNQ wildlife rescue or the Tolga Bat Hospital or your local wildlife organisation.  Cairns Vet Clinic does not accept flying foxes or other bats due to this risk. 
Flying fox

TOXIC FEARS: A virus may be responsible for causing deformities in bats living in a colony near a Cairns library. Source: The Daily Telegraph

A VIRUS may be causing deformities in more than 100 newborn bats living in a colony near the Cairns library, a vet says.

The State Government and CSIRO are investigating why spectacled flying foxes with deformities such as cleft palates and twisted limbs have been found near the city's library colony since the start of the year.

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.

Read more at www.cairns.com.au.

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