AS the flying fox and bat breeding season gets underway, health authorities are reminding people to avoid contact with injured animals as they can carry serious diseases, including lyssavirus.
NSW Health's Dr Vicky Sheppeard said 142 NSW residents have been given post-exposure treatment this year after they were bitten or scratched by a bat.
"During the bat birthing season in October and November, we find people are more likely to come in contact with bats, as young and miscarried pups may be on the ground, prompting people to pick them up or attempt to rescue them," she said.
"People should steer clear of bats at all times.
"Four bats were confirmed with the lyssavirus in NSW this year, and lyssavirus infection can result in a rabies-like illness which is very serious and, if not prevented, is fatal."
She said anyone who was bitten or snatched should thoroughly clean the wound for at least five minutes with soap and water immediately, apply an antiseptic such as Betadine and seek urgent medical advice.
When a flying fox or bat is injured or in distress, do not try to rescue it.
Contact the experts at WIRES on 1300 094 737 for further information.