Call for calm in Cairns over bat bites
A PUBLIC-health official was calling for calm yesterday after a seven-year-old boy was bitten by a bat at his Innisfail home on Monday.
Nicholas Shale was bitten on the right hand by a micro-bat, which flew out from under the covers while he was climbing into bed.
It came as an eight-year-old Cairns boy continues to fight for his life in hospital after contracting the deadly lyssavirus when he was bitten by a bat while on holidays in the Whitsundays.
Queensland Health public physician Dr Steven Donohue moved to quell rising concern over the bat-borne disease.
He said the chances Nicholas had contracted it were akin to "getting struck by lightning" as he had received the post-exposure treatment.
No patient who has received the treatment has been infected.
"Australian bat lyssavirus is an incredibly rare disease, one of the rarest on earth," Dr Donohue said.
"Unfortunately not all (victims) get post-exposure treatment so there is a very small possibility (of illness)."
Nicholas's mother Sam Shale, who is calling for bats to be removed from suburban areas, said she was inundated from calls from medical and environmental bodies yesterday.
She said while they had attempted to reassure her of Nicholas's wellbeing, it did not detract from the issue.
"The thing for me is these experts come out and say they (bats) should be protected, but a little boy is still lying in a hospital bed dying," she said.
Last week's case involving the Cairns boy is only the third confirmed case of Australian bat lyssavirus in Australia, all three of which have been in Queensland.
An article from the Microbiology Australia journal published in 2005 pinpointed a rise in the number of bat-borne viruses, including Hendra.
However, Dr Donohue attributed the rise to the fact the diseases had only recently been discovered.
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Victim: Nicholas Shale who was bitten on the right hand by a micro-bat, which flew out from under the covers while he was climbing into bed.