Tuesday, 16 September 2014The warning comes with the positive detection of the virus in a bat located in Katherine during the weekend.
"There has been no transmission of the virus to humans in the NT, but it is timely to remind everyone that they should avoid contact with bats," Dr Peter Markey, Acting Director Centre for Disease Control said.
Before this most recent case, the last detection of Australian Bat Lyssavirus in the NT was in 1997.
"It is best to assume that all bats are carrying the potentially fatal Australian Bat Lyssavirus which can be transmitted through contact with bat saliva," Dr Markey said.
"Anyone who does come in to contact with a bat should take immediate action to avoid contracting the virus which is related to rabies.
"If a bat scratch or bite occurs, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and running water for at least 5 minutes. Cover the wound and seek medical attention immediately, to receive lifesaving protection with a rabies vaccination.
"Direct contact with bat saliva through the eyes, nose or mouth can also result in transmission. In this instance, immediately flush the area with water and seek medical help."
"Contact with bat faeces is not a risk. The virus cannot survive for more than a few hours outside a live bat."
Dr Markey advised that the disease could be carried by both fruit-eating 'flying foxes' and insect-eating bats.
"As a result, bats should only be handled by experts who have been vaccinated against Australian Bat Lyssavirus with the rabies vaccine," he said.
"We urge anyone who finds a sick or injured bat, or finds dead bats that need to be disposed of, to contact the nearest wildlife rescue service for assistance.
"Many communities live in harmony with bats but it is always best to leave the handling of them to the experts."
For further information call the Centre for Disease Control in Darwin, 89 228 044 or go to:
Media Contact: Bridget Wild 89 992 818 or 0401 116 203