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.

References used for this topic page

More information:

Better Health Channel
Australian Bat Lyssavirus

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (Qld)
Australian bat lyssavirus 

SA Health
Rabies virus and Australian bat lyssavirus – including symptoms, treatment and prevention

Clinical care:

Department of Health (Aust)
Rabies Virus and Other Lyssavirus (Including Australian Bat Lyssavirus) Exposures and Infections

NSW Health
Rabies and other lyssavirus infections

Victorian Health Department
Rabies and Australian bat lyssavirus

Research & reviews:

Microbiology Australia
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)

Fast facts:


  • 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.

Last updated: 4th May, 2020