CAUTION: Residents are being warned not to touch distressed bats in the heatwave.
CAUTION: Residents are being warned not to touch distressed bats in the heatwave. Inga Williams IR291113BATS3

Residents warned of bats during heatwave

BURNETT residents who come across distressed bats during the current heatwave are being advised by the Wide Bay Public Health Unit that they should never touch or handle a bat.

Bats, like all other wildlife, are vulnerable to heatwave conditions especially during events like the current fires in the Burnett areas, and residents may come across bats that appear distressed or dead.

Wide Bay Public Health Unit physician Dr Margaret Young advised that if residents came across distressed or dead bats they should contact a qualified wildlife carer for advice and assistance.

"People should never touch bats unless they are trained and vaccinated wildlife carers, even if the bat appears to be dead,” Dr Young said.

"Bats that appear dead often are not dead and will bite or scratch people if touched. It is important that you do not touch the bat as their bite or scratch, which can go through towels and gloves, can transfer diseases such as Australian Bat Lyssavirus, which is closely related to rabies.

"If the bat appears distressed or if it needs to be moved, please contact a wildlife care organisation in your local area for advice.”

Dr Young said bats that are very clearly dead should be placed in a bin or buried using something like a shovel.

"Do not touch the bat as there is a claw on the wing which can cause injury,” she said.

Anyone who is bitten or scratched should wash the wound for at least five minutes using soap and water, then seek immediate medical advice.

Check the Yellow Pages or your internet search engine for a wildlife care group near you.