Anxious wait for bat bite victims
ALAN Godfrey may well have his daughter to thank for his life.
Mr Godfrey was one of three men bitten by the same bat in Joseph Banks Conservation Park at Seventeen Seventy on Tuesday, and who later discovered the little red flying fox was infected with the deadly Australia bat lyssavirus
Unconcerned by the bite, he only sought help on his daughter’s advice.
“I wasn’t even going to go to the doctor or anything, because it didn’t seem like much,” he said.
“But I’m glad I did because they told me it was good to get it tested so they could see if it had the virus.
“I don’t even know the other blokes, but it’s good we could find out (it had the virus) and get the right treatment for everybody.”
Mr Godfrey, who is visiting from the Sunshine Coast, was enjoying a stroll with his grandson in Sir Joseph Banks Conservation Park, on Round Hill Head, when he was bitten.
“I was walking with my grandson. He’s a real little environmentalist, and we saw this bat in the tree,” Mr Godfrey said.
“I was talking to my grandson about its wingspan and everything, and it came crawling down the tree. And then all of a sudden it just leapt out and got me on the ear.”
Mr Godfrey was the one who returned to the park and killed the flying fox so it could be sent to Brisbane and tested for the virus.
Now it has come back positive, he and the two other bite victims have started a course of injections to combat the possibility of the virus affecting them.
“I didn’t want to hurt it or anything, but I guess it had to be done,” he said.
The only two cases of human infection with lyssavirus were in 1996 and 1998 – both of which proved fatal.
But medical authorities have since developed a safe and effective preventative treatment using a course of prophylaxis.
Biosecurity Queensland principal veterinary scientist Dr Janine Barrett said a bat would normally take flight when approached by humans, but in this case was affected by the virus, which swelled its brain.
Calls to cull the bats as a result have been dismissed.
“Bats are a very important part of the environment for forest regeneration. But people should stay away from physical contact and call a wildlife carer if they come across an injured or sick bat,” Dr Barrett said.