Bat Health Focus Group

WHA supports a focus group with an interest in bat health issues in Australia.

Using a collaborative One Health approach, the Bat Health Focus Group considers bat health issues in relation to the broader context of biosecurity, public health, livestock health and environmental impacts in Australia. Members come from organisations including Australian and State Government departments of agriculture, public health and environment; CSIRO Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, universities, the Australasian Bat Society and the Australian Speleological Federation. Members include veterinarians, biologists, ecologists, virologists, epidemiologists and wildlife/bat carers. Membership of the group is by invitation.

The group has assisted the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment and Animal Health Australia in updating the ABLV AUSVETPLAN disease strategy and provides the National Animal Health Information Program with collated information on ABLV testing in bats. The group produces a regular summary of ABLV testing of bats in Australia (below).

For more information please contact

COVID-19 and bats

Wildlife Health Australia, in collaboration with government and non-government stakeholders, is continually assessing information on the COVID-19 situation. A risk assessment was conducted to assess the likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 establishing in an Australian bat population following human-to-bat transmission, and the resulting consequences:

Qualitative Risk Assessment – COVID-19 & Australian Bats (August 2020)

Publication: Cox-Witton K et al (2021). Risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission from humans to bats – An Australian assessment. One Health, 13, 100247

On the basis of the findings of this assessment and the current situation, information has been developed to assist bat carers, researchers and others interacting with bats to manage the potential risk (updated January 2022):

COVID-19 and Australian bats – information for bat carers and others interacting with bats

For more information and general guidance for wildlife carers, field researchers, and others interacting with wildlife, see WHA's COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 virus) Fact Sheet.

As this is a dynamic situation, we will continue to assess new information within the Australian context, and update these documents accordingly.

Are you interested in bat health?

Wildlife Health Australia collates recent media articles and publications relating to bat health into a monthly
‘Bat News’ email. If you would like to receive it, please contact WHA.

If you are interested in wildlife health more broadly, WHA produces a weekly email Digest of wildlife health and disease information including media stories, research news, upcoming events and recent publications from both Australia and overseas. To receive the weekly Digest, go to 'Become a member'.

Australian Bat Lyssavirus Reports

ABLV Bat Stats is a six-monthly report prepared by the WHA Bat Health Focus Group presenting information on Australian bat lyssavirus testing in bats across Australia.

 ABLV Bat Stats June 2022

 ABLV Bat Stats December 2021

 ABLV Bat Stats June 2021

 ABLV Bat Stats December 2020

 ABLV Bat Stats June 2020

 ABLV Bat Stats December 2019

 ABLV Bat Stats June 2019

 ABLV Bat Stats December 2018

 ABLV Bat Stats June 2018

For earlier ABLV Bat Stats click here >>

For more information on ABLV, see the WHA Australian Bat Lyssavirus Fact Sheet

Publication: Iglesias R et al., (2021). Australian bat lyssavirus: analysis of national bat surveillance data from 2010 to 2016. Viruses, 13(2), 189

PPE Information for Bat Handlers

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Information for Bat Handlers

This document provides information on personal protective equipment (PPE) aimed at preventing the transmission of ABLV and other bat-borne pathogens through bat bites and scratches, or via contact with infected urine, faeces, saliva or aerosols. It is intended to provide information for vaccinated bat rehabilitators, researchers, ecologists, veterinarians and associated workers. Use of appropriate PPE will also help prevent disease transmission from the person to the bat.

White-Nose Syndrome

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a fungal disease that has caused significant declines in insectivorous bat populations in North America. WNS has not been identified in Australia. For more information on this disease, see the WHA White-nose Syndrome Fact Sheet (Exotic).

WNS is nationally notifiable. If you suspect or can confirm that a bat is showing symptoms of WNS, you must report it to your local vet OR your state or territory's department of primary industries or agriculture by calling the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

How to report a suspect case of white-nose syndrome - This document provides information on white-nose syndrome for people in Australia who come into contact with microbats e.g. bat/wildlife carers, ecologists and other researchers and students, cavers, cave managers, park rangers and members of the public.

National guidelines for sample submission - White-nose syndrome - Exclusion testing - This document provides a framework to assist veterinarians with the appropriate collection and submission of samples to facilitate the exclusion of white-nose syndrome in Australia.

White-nose syndrome - Protecting Australian bats - This is an update on current activities to reduce the risk of introduction of WNS into Australia, and to better prepare Australia in case the disease were to be found here.

Qualitative risk assessment: White-nose syndrome in bats in Australia - Wildlife Health Australia, with funding from the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment commissioned a disease risk assessment for the potential introduction of white-nose syndrome to Australia. This report was prepared by a team of experts led through the University of Melbourne in collaboration with the South Australian Museum, DELWP (Arthur Rylah Institute) Victoria and the University of Adelaide. Publication: Holz P et al (2019). Does the fungus causing white-nose syndrome pose a significant risk to Australian bats? Wildlife Research, 46(8), 657-68

White-nose Syndrome Response Guidelines - These guidelines have been developed by Wildlife Health Australia in consultation with stakeholder groups, to assist response agencies in the event of an incursion of the exotic disease white-nose syndrome into bats in Australia.

White-nose Syndrome Response Guidelines Workshop - Summary - Wildlife Health Australia and Animal Health Australia ran a workshop in October 2016 to discuss response options for a possible incursion of the exotic disease white-nose syndrome into bats in Australia.

Hendra Virus testing of flying foxes

The Bat Health Focus Group has prepared an information document with advice regarding testing of individual flying foxes for Hendra virus. It covers current knowledge, available tests and their limitations, and challenges with interpretation of results. 

Hendra Virus Testing in Individual Flying Foxes at Necropsy - Information Document

For more information on HeV, see the WHA Hendra virus and Australian Wildlife Fact Sheet