Due to extreme heat bats are on the move and are dying from heat stress. Queensland Health have issued a reminder to all Queensland residents to avoid handling bats.

Extreme weather is not only causing humans distress, many bats are suffering heat stress as a result of the recent severe weather conditions. Thousands of bats are dying from the sky high temperatures in Queensland.

Queensland Health reminds everyone to not touch or handle dead or sick bats.

According to Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young there has been a dramatic 250 per cent increase in the number of people reporting exposures to bat bites and scratches since the beginning of last year.

There has also been an increase in the number of bats and flying foxes min suburban areas searching for food, water and shelter, many are being found trapped in fruit netting and on barbed-wire fences.

Dr Young urges everyone to avoid touching or handling bats in anyway,

“If you find a bat it is very important not to touch the bat because of the risk of infection with Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV),” she said.

ABLV is a very serious virus that can be transmitted from bats through bites and scratches. ABLV infection causes serious illness in humans and commonly results in death. The most recent case was in March 2013 in an eight year old boy from north Queensland.

If you see a struggling or dead bat contact your  local wildlife group or the RSPCA to find out how to safely remove them or provide them aid. Your local council is also able to assist with the removal of dead bats.

In the event someone is bitten or scratched by a bat or exposed to bat saliva through the eyes, nose or mouth they are advised to follow these steps:

1. Do not scrub the wound – wash the wound gently but thoroughly for about five minutes with soap and water

2. If available, apply an antiseptic with anti-virus action such as iodine-based disinfectant (e.g. Betadine) or alcohol (ethanol)

3. If bat saliva has got in the eyes, nose or mouth, flush the area thoroughly with water.

4. Contact a doctor or the nearest hospital immediately
For more information visit the Queensland Health website or call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).

Find out how to keep your pets cool in the heat.