Health concerns
  • Last updated:
  • 03 Sep 2020

Like all wild animals, Flying foxes may carry diseases, but the risk of spreading those diseases to humans is extremely low. In fact, they pose no major health risks unless you are scratched or bitten by one. So please, never touch a sick or injured Flying fox. For more information on Flying fox health visit Queensland Health or Little Aussie Battler.

If you find a sick or injured Flying fox or microbat DO NOT handle it - contact RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) for the help of a trained and vaccinated rescuer.

COVID-19

Wildlife disease surveillance in Australia is coordinated by Wildlife Health Australia. Wildlife Health Australia has advised that currently there is no evidence of the virus responsible for COVID-19 or similar viruses in Australian wildlife including Australian Flying-foxes.

For further information on COVID-19 and Australian wildlife, please refer to the Wildlife Health Australia Factsheet. For further information on COVID-19 please refer to Queensland Health.

Australian Bat Lyssavirus

The Australian Bat Lyssavirus is only present in about 1% of the entire flying-fox population, and it is not spread through droppings or urine, only through bites and scratches. Australian Bat Lyssavirus antibodies have been detected in species of flying-foxes and microbats, so please remember – never touch flying-foxes or microbats.

Hendra virus

Hendra virus cases in humans are very rare, and there is no evidence humans can contract the virus directly from flying-foxes. Hendra virus can be transferred from horses to humans through exposure to the body fluids of infected animals.

It is thought that horses may contract Hendra virus from eating food or drinking water recently contaminated by flying-fox urine, saliva or other bodily fluids. To reduce the risk of exposure:

  • remove horses from paddocks where flying-foxes are roosting or feeding
  • remove food and water troughs for horses, other pets and livestock from underneath trees where flying-foxes are present.
  • Speak to your veterinarian about vaccinating your horse.

You can view up-to-date advice about human and livestock health on the Queensland Health and Biosecurity Queensland websites.