SCIENTIFIC TESTING: Bio Security testing flying fox colony for disease at Bicentennial Park, Boonah.
SCIENTIFIC TESTING: Bio Security testing flying fox colony for disease at Bicentennial Park, Boonah. Matthew Sawtell

Bat colony tested for hendra virus

BIOSECURITY Queensland scientists are testing a Boonah flying fox colony for traces of the hendra and lyssavirus disease.

Researchers captured and bagged bats from the 3000-strong roost at Bicentennial Park. Urine and blood samples were collected to undergo further lab examinations and identify species, age and sex. The focus was on black flying foxes which inhabit the site monitored by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

A Biosecurity Queensland spokeswoman said it was too early to confirm whether the colony carried the diseases as the site was subject to ongoing data collection.

The Scenic Rim Council, which recently announced it had applied for a Damage Mitigation Permit to disperse the colony, issued the statement: "In line with Council's resolution of 30 April, a consultant with expertise in flying fox management has been engaged to develop a management plan which will be used to support any applications under the relevant legislation."

The council could not confirm any further details, but according to Biosecurity Queensland, colony dispersal may only occur after a comprehensive assessment is completed by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and under a Damage Mitigation Permit.

A 12-month research project by the Queensland Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases recently assessed the impact of colony dispersal on stress and hendra virus infection levels in affected flying foxes.

Researchers measured the stress hormones and virus levels in flying foxes by collecting and testing urine before, during and after dispersal of a colony. It found no association between the disturbance to a colony from dispersal and an increase in the excretion of hendra virus.

The level of hendra virus excretion was found to be higher in black and spectacled flying-foxes, suggesting these species may be a more important source of infection for horses than the little red or grey-headed flying foxes.



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