Northern Territory residents and visitors are being warned not to handle bats after a flying fox tested positive to the deadly Australian bat lyssavirus.
This is the second bat to test positive in a matter of months and only the third case for the Northern Territory since the first was detected in 1997.
Found Australia-wide, the virus is very similar to rabies, and symptoms include severe headaches and convulsions, before it paralyses breathing and causes a fatal brain inflammation.
All three people who have contracted the virus, in Queensland, have died.
The infected flying fox was under the care of a bat carer when it became sick and died, said Malcolm Anderson, the NT’s chief veterinary officer.
‘The disease, like rabies, can have a very long incubation period, so it can be in an animal for a long time before they show signs … six months or 12 months,’ he said.
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