B. McCall, J. Epstein, A. Neill
Emerging Infectious Diseases
Two human deaths caused by Australian bat lyssavirus (ABL) infection have been reported since 1996. Information was obtained from 205 persons (mostly adults from south Brisbane and the South Coast of Queensland), who reported potential ABL exposure to the Brisbane Southside Public Health Unit from November 1,1996, to January 31, 1999. Volunteer animal handlers accounted for 39% of potential exposures, their family members for 12%, professional animal handlers for 14%, community members who intentionally handled bats for 31%, and community members with contacts initiated by bats for 4%. The prevalence of Lyssavirus detected by fluorescent antibody test in 366 sick, injured, or orphaned bats from the area was 6%. Sequelae of exposure, including the requirement for expensive postexposure prophylaxis, may be reduced by educating bat handlers and the public of the risks involved in handling Australian bats.