Lyssavirus is related to the rabies virus. Thankfully, Lyssavirus is a rare disease in Australia and only three human deaths have been recorded since it was discovered in 1996. People can be infected by bites or scratches from infected flying foxes or bats. There are vaccines to prevent infection and treatment after direct exposure can also be effective. It is important to seek treatment promptly if you have had contact with bats.
If you are bitten or scratched by a bat, immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water, apply an antiseptic and get immediate medical help.
- Lyssavirus is closely related to the rabies virus.
- Infections are rare in Australia.
- The virus can be transmitted to humans by bites or scratches from infected bats.
- If bitten by a bat or flying fox, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Apply antiseptic to the area and seek medical help.
Prevention will depend on the ability to avoid exposure to bats, particularly if they are behaving unusually or unwell. If avoidance of the animal is not possible, then prior vaccination is recommended. If an exposure occurs (bite, scratch, or exposure to saliva then post exposure treatment with rabies vaccine is advised.
References used for this topic
Better Health Channel
Australian Bat Lyssavirus
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (Qld)
Australian bat lyssavirus
Rabies virus and Australian bat lyssavirus – including symptoms, treatment and prevention
Department of Health (Aust)
Rabies Virus and Other Lyssavirus (Including Australian Bat Lyssavirus) Exposures and Infections
Rabies and other lyssavirus infections
Research & reviews:
The dynamic landscape of bat borne zoonotic viruses in Australia (2020)
Australian Journal of General Practice
Australian bat lyssavirus (2018)
NSW Public Health Bulletin
Australian Bat Lyssavirus: examination of post-exposure treatment in NSW [PDF 132kb]
Recent Observations on Australian Bat Lyssavirus Tropism and Viral Entry (2014)
Science Direct – Veterinary Microbiology
Human rabies due to lyssavirus infection of bat origin (2010)