THE extreme heat is causing a spate of bat deaths, according to Queensland Health, which is warning people not to touch or handle the animals if they find them.
Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said Queensland Health had already seen an increase of 250% in the number of people reporting exposures to bat bites and scratches since the beginning of last year.
Wildlife groups have also reported an increase in the number of bats and flying foxes in suburban areas in search of food and water, with some found trapped in fruit netting and on barbed-wire fences.
Dr Young said the majority of exposures occurred when people attempted to handle injured, sick or trapped bats.
"If you find a bat it is very important not to touch the bat because of the risk of infection with Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV)," she said.
"Some bats may appear to be dead but they're not, and when people have attempted to remove them they have been bitten or scratched.
"Bats also have a claw on their wings which is a frequent cause of injury.
"If you are concerned about a bat that you think is dead, or if it appears injured, you should contact the RSPCA or your local wildlife group for advice on how to safely remove it," she said.
Dr Young said the local council was also able to assist with the removal of dead bats.
"It is very important to not attempt to assist the animal yourself," she said.
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