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HEATWAVE: Renewed warnings about a 'hidden' danger

AUTHORITIES have made renewed warnings about the danger of touching bats as a fresh heatwave rolls out across the state.

Once temperatures reach 40 degrees, the animals start suffering from heat exhaustion and can fall from their roosts.

While compassionate people may be inclined to help, that could be a fatal error.

TOO HOT: Bats start to suffer once the temperature hits 38 degrees
TOO HOT: Bats start to suffer once the temperature hits 38 degrees NewsCorp

Bats can carry the deadly lyssavirus and attempting to help can end in a human being infected.

In November there were seven reported cases within the West Moreton area where people had been exposed to bat saliva; in some cases saliva samples tested positive to lyssavirus.

During the last heatwave in early December Goodna-based health physician Dr Catherine Quagliotto said it was vital for people to remember, never touch a bat.

"If you do come across a bat please don't go near it, call the RSPCA or a wildlife care group," Dr Quagliotto said.

"Australian bat lyssavirus is similar to rabies and can be fatal for humans. If you are exposed, either by being bitten, scratched, or in any way, wash the wound gently with soap and water, and seek medical advice."

Bat rescuer Keith Falkiner said the last heatwave didn't cause too much distress for the Ipswich bat population and he received only a few calls for advice.

In Ipswich, it's expected to hit 37 degrees on Friday increasing to 39 degrees on Saturday.

The Australian Red Cross is warning people not to underestimate the effects of successive hot days and to be on the lookout for heat-stroke symptoms.

Red Cross first aid trainer Janie McCullagh said heat-stroke symptoms could include an altered conscious state, like being confused or fainting, vomiting, appearing hot and red and more specifically a high body temperature with a lack of sweat.

Australian Red Cross first aid trainer Janie McCullagh.
Australian Red Cross first aid trainer Janie McCullagh.

"Heat-stroke can be life-threatening," Ms McCullagh said.

"Knowing how to respond can be critical."

Red Cross' free First Aid App can be used to walk users through the signs, symptoms and responses for heat-stroke and many other first aid emergencies.

However, Ms McCullagh said family and friends were the most likely to respond to an emergency and the quick responses taught in first aid training could result in a positive outcome.

"The confidence to know what to do in a first aid emergency can make the difference between a positive outcome and a tragedy," she said.

Numbers you need this heatwave

  • RSPCA 1300 264 625
  • Bat Rescue SEQ 3062 6730 or 0488 228 134
  • 1300 HEALTH (for medical advice)

Topics:  bat heatwave ipswich lyssavirus


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