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Bats Threaten Sydney Residents

Bats Threaten Sydney Residents

Wednesday, 16 January, 2019 - 06:30
A man lays in a pool of sea water he dug into Sydney's North Cronulla Beach. Reuters file photo
Sydney – London - Asharq Al-Awsat
Extreme heat is being blamed for the flying rabid bats attacking and biting people, which prompted the Australian authorities Monday to urge residents in northern Sydney to exercise caution from "fierce" attacks.

Health officials said that residents of Hunter Valley and the New England region have reported an unprecedented number of bat attacks.

According to ABC News, two of the attacks were carried out by bats "flying foxes" infected with a rabies-like virus. Public health physician David Durrheim said the number of bites or scratches inflicted on people in the region in the last two weeks is unprecedented.

Dr. Durrheim told ABC: "Two of the bats submitted for testing have actually had lyssavirus infection, so it is a real concern for us and for those people who have been exposed," the German News Agency reported.

"Hot weather has resulted in some bats suffering ill health and getting caught in wires or falling from trees, and people trying to assist them have unfortunately got scratched or bitten," Durrheim added.

"Black flying foxes tend to start dying above about 42 degrees Celsius, and grey-headed flying foxes above about 43 degrees Celsius," the physician explained.

Many bats carry the Australian lyssavirus, a rabies-like virus, which can be lethal to humans. Once the virus enters the human body, it cannot be treated effectively, the physician explained.

"Almost everyone affected by the lyssavirus virus dies," Durrheim told ABC.

Fiona McBurney, from the group Wildlife Aid Upper Hunter, urged people to call experts to deal with bats in distress. "Our bat carers are immunized and trained to handle these bats," she said.

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