A HEALTH warning has been issued about the dangers of handling injured bats. Bites or scratches could transmit Australian bat lyssavirus.
The South Western Sydney Local Health District has reported many bats have died or been injured during the recent hot weather and bushfires.
It said people feel prompted to pick up or rescue the animals.
"People who've been scratched or bitten by bats run the risk of contracting an Australian lyssavirus infection that could result in a rabies-like illness which can be very serious and if not treated may be fatal," said public-health unit acting director Graham Burgess. "If someone is bitten or scratched by any type of bat they should thoroughly clean the wound for at least five minutes with soap and water as soon as possible, apply an antiseptic solution to help prevent infection and seek urgent medical advice."
He advised residents to avoid all contact with bats. "If you come across a bat that's injured, distressed or caught in wire or netting contact the experts at the NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service."
But Cabramatta Creek Flying Fox Committee's co-ordinator Tim Johnson said residents shouldn't be concerned. "The risk of flying foxes transmitting disease to humans is extremely low," he said.