Lyssavirus in Melbourne, Victoria

Jul 18, 2011 | healthmap | Outbreak News

Australian Bat Lyssavirus has been detected in a colony of fruit bats in Yarra Bend Park, which is in the Melbourne suburb of Kew.  Lyssavirus is related to rabies and produces similar neurological symptoms: change in behaviour, paralysis, seizures. The only two humans cases have ever reported were in Queensland in 1996 and 1998; both resulted in death.  It has not been identified in any other animals, and humans can avoid the disease simply by not interacting with bats. Australian Bat Lyssavirus is a completely different disease from Hendra virus, which is also bat-associated.  A Hendra virus outbreak in Queensland has led to calls from some of the public to cull the bat population.  The idea has been utterly dismissed by public health authorities; culling or relocating the bats would stress the urban bat population and thereby increase shedding of the virus, leading to more, not fewer, cases. Additionally, the flying foxes in question are critical for seed dispersal and pollination of many important plants and crops.

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