Health concerns
  • Last updated:
  • 09 Jan 2019

Like all wild animals, Flying foxes may carry diseases, but the risk of spreading those diseases to humans is extremely low. There is no greater bacteria or viral load identified in Flying fox droppings compared to other wildlife, therefore if you come into contact with it, good hygiene practices eliminate any risk of contamination or illness. 

If you find a sick or injured Flying fox or microbat DO NOT handle it, and please contact RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) so that a trained and vaccinated rescuer can come to assist.

Australian Bat Lyssavirus

The Australian Bat Lyssavirus is only present in about 1% of the entire 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, therefore the public are directed not to touch any bats.

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. The risk of exposure can be reduced by removing horses from paddocks where Flying foxes are roosting or feeding, removing food and water troughs for horses and other pets and livestock from underneath trees where Flying foxes are present.

Several hundred people have been exposed to Hendra virus infected horses but have not been infected. However, seven people have been confirmed to have Hendra virus following high levels of exposure to infected horses. Four of these people died, the most recent in 2009.

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