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Diseases and infection prevention

Protecting kids from Australian bat lyssavirus

Bats and flying foxes can carry bacteria and viruses which can be harmful to humans.

Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV) is a virus that can be transmitted from bats to humans, causing serious illness.

Since November 1996, three people have died as a result of ABLV infection after being bitten or scratched by bats. ABLV is closely related, but not identical, to rabies virus, which causes a serious and usually fatal disease in humans.

ABLV can be transmitted from bats to humans when bat saliva enters the human body, usually by a bite or scratch from the animal.

The best protection against being exposed to the virus is to avoid handling bats or flying foxes.

It is especially important to communicate this message to young children who may accidentally, or due to curiosity, disturb an injured bat or flying fox, causing it to scratch or bite them. Educate children to stay away from bats and flying foxes and to tell an adult immediately if they see or touch a bat. Teach children that it is very important to let a grown up know because they could become very sick if a bat bites or scratches them.

Parents, teachers and guardians also need to know the steps to take if a child in their care does come into contact with a bat or flying fox.

  1. If you see a bat or flying fox that’s hurt, don’t touch the bat. Contact:
  1. Take the child to see a doctor for treatment.
  2. Ring your local Public Health Unit or ask your doctor to ring them for you. Public Health will provide advice and organise treatments as necessary.

To help educate kids on the importance of staying away from bats, and what to do if they see one injured, we’ve put together the Kids and bats can’t be friends poster (PDF 695kB). It’s been written for primary school-aged children and includes a colouring-in section.

We encourage parents, teachers and guardians to download and print this poster and make sure they, and the children in their care, know what to do around bats.

For more information on Australian bat lyssavirus visit Queensland Health’s Health Conditions Directory.

Kids and bats poster
Print version (PDF 695kB)


Last Updated: 02 September 2014
Last Reviewed: 02 September 2013