Why we need to be careful when getting in contact with bats

Bats are known to be a carrier of the Hendra Virus and the Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABLV), which both can pose a risk to the health of humans and pets. Research is still ongoing to fully understand how these diseases are transmitted and government recommendations regarding contact with bats are constantly changing as new information becomes available.

Thus, please consult the information pages of the Qld Government (as listed below) for the most up to date recommendations.

What to do if I got bitten or scratched by a bat?

ABLV is known to be transmitted from an infected, sick bat via a bite or deep scratch. Although being extremely rare, ABLV is related to rabies and can therefore cause a deadly disease if not treated instantly. A post exposure vaccination is available and is most effective when administered as soon as possible after the incident occured.

    • thoroughly rinse the bite/scratch with water and apply an antiseptic
    • seek urgent medical attention
    • report the incident immediately to Queensland Health on 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84)
  • Call our bat rescue hotline on 0447 222 889 (Gold Coast Area) or the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) to have a trained carer sent out who can safely handle the bat. NEVER TOUCH A BAT or attempt to handle it yourself!

To date, there is no evidence for a direct transmission of the Hendra virus from a bat to a human. However, Hendra can be transmitted to humans from an infected horse. There is no risk of contracting ABLV or Hendra by living close to a bat colony or by bats visiting your backyard.

What if my dog/cat had direct contact with a bat?

    • thoroughly check for bites/scratches
    • rinse the bite/scratch with water and apply an antiseptic
    • seek veterinary advice
    • call Biosecurity Qld on 13 25 23 or the Emergency Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888 for the most up to date recommendations
  • Call our bat rescue hotline on 0447 222 889 (Gold Coast Area) or the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) to have a trained carer sent out who can safely handle the bat. NEVER TOUCH A BAT or attempt to handle it yourself!

Although, to date, no dog or cat has contracted Hendra or ABLV directly from a bat, research is still being carried out to fully understand how both viruses are transmitted. Thus, if your cat or dog has been in direct contact with a bat, please urgently consult your veterinarian for advice. A post exposure vaccination against ABLV is available for cats and dogs and can be obtained through your vet. For more information and the most up to date research, visit the information pages of the Queensland Government:

Further Reading and Resources