How to treat a bat bite or scratch

If this is an emergency, please call 000 immediately.

What is a bat bite or scratch?

In Australia, flying foxes or other bats can carry lyssavirus (also known as ABLV: Australian bat lyssavirus) which is potentially fatal.

These animals must never be handled by people who are not trained to handle wildlife, even if the animal is injured.

This guide is regularly updated and aligns with the current edition of Australian First Aid (4th edition, 7/2011)

Signs and Symptoms


  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Stinging or needle prick sensation


What to do

Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water.



Seek medical aid, regardless of the site or severity of the wound.

  • A protective vaccine can be administered even after the bite.



Bat bite or scratch fact sheet

DRSABCD poster

Related advice

Bites and stings

Here’s a helpful guide for dealing with many different types of bites and stings – from snakes and spiders to jellyfish and bluebottles.


In the case of suspected poisoning, call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26. It’s important not to induce vomiting, unless instructed by them to do so.

Spider bite

Here is a handy fact sheet and action plan for dealing with different types of spider bites.

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