|A native Australian bat. Courtesy: Greg Wood|
In Australia, many things can kill you. Among them is the Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV), a viral zoonosis that can be transmitted from bats to humans. Since the identification of the virus in 1996, three Queenslanders have died from the lyssavirus. The common theme in each of their deaths? A significant delay in reporting exposure to bats.
They only sought treatment after the lyssavirus incubation period, when rabies-like symptoms began. By then it is too late. As a member of the family Rhabdoviridae, ABLV is related to Rabies, another notorious virus known for its high fatality rate if vaccination is not given. Like Rabies, ABLV has a very long incubation period. Therefore, despite the lack of symptom after a bat bite or scratch, it is essential for people to seek testing.