Global Health Warning After Boy, 8, Dies From Bat Bite

14/08/2014 16:48 | Updated 22 May 2015
Global health warning after boy, 8, died after being bitten by a bat

The death of an eight-year-old boy has triggered a global health warning – about bats!

The boy was bitten on a family holiday in Queensland, Australia, in December last month.

He didn't tell his parents, but three weeks later he began to suffer convulsions, abdominal pain and fever, followed by progressive brain problems.

Doctors frantically tried to establish what was wrong and on day 10 of his admission the deadly Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABLV) was detected.

He fell into a coma and died on February 22. Now people have been warned to avoid bats because it is feared they carry a potentially deadly virus.

It is also feared the virus can be spread from human-to-human. The boy was the third person in the country to die of ABLV - for which there is no known treatment for humans.

It causes people to suffer convulsions, abdominal pain and fever before falling into a coma.

Doctors Joshua Francis and Clare Nourse of Brisbane's Mater Children's Hospital warned an infectious diseases conference that human-to-human transmission of the virus may now be possible.

Dr Francis said: "ABLV has proved fatal in all cases reported to date. There is a need for increased public awareness of the risk associated with bat contact. In short, people should stay away from bats."

Francis gave the Canberra conference the warning to avoid bats around the world and it was issued not just because of the danger posed by the animals themselves, but due to the risk, however remote, that the virus could be spread between humans.

He said: "Human-to-human transmission of lyssaviruses has not been well-documented, but it is theoretically possible."

ABLV was first identified in Australian bats and flying foxes and is common in both, though human infection is extremely rare.

Two adult cases were confirmed in 1996 and 1998. One was a woman bitten by a flying fox after wrestling it off a child, the other a carer who looked after the animals.

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