Since December 2020, unusual clusters of flaccid paralysis have been identified in flying-foxes in south-east Qld and north-east NSW, particularly over the summer months. To date, black, grey-headed and little red flying-foxes have been affected. Anecdotally, cases appear to be correlated with periods of heavy rain. Preliminary investigations have ruled out known causes of paralysis, and in lieu of a diagnosis the syndrome has been named Flying Fox Paralysis Syndrome (FFPS). Investigations into the cause of FFPS are ongoing, and further cases have occurred over the 2023/2024 summer. Download: Flying-fox Paralysis Syndrome - Interim case definition, sample collection & treatment advice
Feb 2024: Paralysis events continue in flying-foxes.
Jan 2022: The paralysis event in flying-foxes that occurred last summer (see below) is once again occurring in South East Qld. Clinical signs are similar to last time, with paralysis or paresis, protruding tongues, inability to blink and respiratory distress. A broad range of testing during the previous event did not identify the cause, however no evidence of an infectious cause was found and a toxic or metabolic cause was considered most likely (see report below). This year, investigation will focus on the possibility of a plant or fungal toxin, including testing of faecal samples from affected bats.
Dec 2020/Jan 2021: Sick flying-foxes have been reported in a range of locations in northern NSW and South East Qld. Clinical signs include paralysis and paresis (limb weakness), protruding tongues, inability to swallow, and difficulty breathing. Carers, veterinarians and government agencies are working to investigate the cause of this event. Further information: Paralysis event in flying foxes in Queensland and New South Wales
Wildlife Health Australia is collecting information to better understand the geographic range, species and age of animals affected, and range of clinical signs. If you have information on this event, please fill out the Flying-fox Event Report Form and return it to WHA. If you are working with others, it would be helpful if you could fill out the form together to avoid duplication of information.
Members of the public should not handle flying-foxes due to the risk of exposure to diseases such as Australian bat lyssavirus. If you find a sick, injured or abandoned flying-fox:
- In NSW: call a licensed wildlife rehabilitation group or local veterinarian. See the NSW DPIE website for further advice and to find your local rehabilitation group.
- In Queensland: call the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625). See the Qld DES website for further advice.
If you see any unusual signs of disease or deaths in wildlife you can report it to:
Download: Flying-fox Event Report Form