Lyssavirus warning as flying fox dispersal begins

Council will attempt to move the bat colony off Tepequar Drive in Maroochydore.
Council will attempt to move the bat colony off Tepequar Drive in Maroochydore. Che Chapman

A TOTAL of 17 people have been bitten or scratched by a bat on the Sunshine Coast since the start of the year.

The figures comes after Queensland Health issued a warning a sick bat found in the Lion's Park at Tewantin on April 16 had tested positive for the deadly lyssavirus.

Lyssavirus, a type of rabies, is fatal if left untreated and is spread to humans by a scratch or bite from a sick bat.

Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service Public Health Physician said it could be prevented "with appropriate treatment".

Three people have died from lyssavirus in Australia since 1996, none received post-treatment.

While Sunshine Coast Council will begin another non-lethal bat dispersal program in Tepequar Dr, Maroochydore this week, Noosa Council has been reluctant to take action.

Noosaville resident Kay Fielden has spent the last four years trying to get the council to do something about the "millions" of bats that roost at Wallace Park.

Only this week, Ms Fielden found another dead bat lying on the ground.

A Noosa Council spokesman said the council appreciated the "noise, smell and mess from flying-foxes in the Wallace Park Bushland Reserve is a source of concern for some residents".

In response, the council cut back vegetation in Wallace Park to increase the distance between homes and flying-fox colonies.

Staff were also investigating the "possible use of sprinklers to increase separation further".

"Expert consultants have advised - and the experience of other councils has shown - that attempts to disperse flying-foxes often fail, and can lead to further problems," the spokesman said.

Sunshine Coast Councillor Jason O'Pray said his council would use "noise, smoke and lighting" this week to deter the bats.

But attempts to deter bats at other flying fox roost sites in the area have had mixed responses.

A council spokeswoman said there were "over 22 known flying fox roost sites" 10 were located on council land and six were occupied.

Noosa Council did not provide its list of colonies by deadline.

Topics:  bats editors picks lyssavirus queensland health sunshine coast hospital and health service

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