A sick bat that was surrendered to a police beat has scratched an officer and prompted an urgent search for the two teenagers who handed in the animal.
It has been confirmed the bat was suffering from the potentially deadly Australian bat lyssavirus, according to Metro North Public Health Unit.
Health officials are urgently seeking two teenagers – a boy about 14 years old and a girl about 16 years old – who anonymously handed in the bat to Kippa-Ring police beat, north of Brisbane.
Public Health physician Dr Catherine Quagliotto said the bat was surrendered on Tuesday morning and was subsequently found to have Australian bat lyssavirus after scratching the police officer on duty.
“We need to get in touch with these teenagers immediately to ascertain if they were bitten or scratched by the bat or if anyone else was exposed,” Dr Quagliotto said late on Wednesday.
“It is best to start treatment within the first 48 hours after being bitten or scratched or having exposure to bat saliva.
“We understand the teens were acting with good intentions and request that they contact us immediately for their own safety.’’
It was unclear where the bat was discovered, but health officials suspect it was near the police station.
“If anyone else may have had contact with this bat they should phone Public Health or visit their GP or emergency department as soon as possible,’’ Dr Quagliotto said.
‘‘Prompt treatment following a bat scratch or bite can prevent serious disease and possibly death. Only vaccinated people who have been trained in the care of bats should ever handle them.’’
The teens are urged to call health officials on 07 3624 1111 during business hours or contact Redcliffe Hospital on 07 3883 7777 and ask to speak with the Public Health physician on call.
If someone finds an injured or sick flying fox, they should contact the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection on 1300 130 372, the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL or their local wildlife care group.
More information about the Australian bat lyssavirus is available here.