BAT WARNING: Disease can spread to humans

A DOCTOR is warning bats are spreading a deadly disease and is asking residents to avoid touching them.

The lyssavirus is similar to rabies and can be transmitted to humans through bites and scratches.

Dr Penny Hutchinson, director of the Darling Downs Public Health Unit, said with warmer weather, there were more bats and flying foxes around.

As some are caught on barbed wire fences or become overcome with heat, they are coming into contact with people who try to help them.

But Dr Hutchinson said that was too risky, instead urging people to contact the RSPCA or a reputable bat rescue organisation.

Flying foxes fly over the Toowoomba skyline at dusk last Sunday.
Flying foxes fly over the Toowoomba skyline at dusk. Kevin Farmer

Anyone who comes into contact with bats should see their doctor immediately and seek medical advice.

A post-exposure treatment is available which can greatly reduce the risk.

Dr Hutchinson said while the virus was not transmitted through faeces or urine, hendravirus could be - although indirectly via infected horses.

She also warned people who were planning trips to south-east Asia to avoid contact with monkeys.

One popular destination for Toowoomba travellers is the Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali, Indonesia.

Dr Hutchinson advised residents to avoid that forest and monkey temples if possible and to not offer food to the monkeys.

They carry rabies which can be deadly to humans.