Mind the bats: Christmas show goes on despite virus find
THE discovery of a bat with the deadly Lyssavirus will not impact the Christmas Wonderland display at Queens Park, according to Ipswich City Council.
Mayor Teresa Harding said the council held urgent discussions with Workplace Health and Safety following the discovery of the flying fox, which tested positive for Australian Bat Lyssavirus.
The virus, which is transmitted from bats to humans when infected bat saliva enters the human body by a bite or scratch, is only found in a small percentage of the bat population nationally.
WHS officers confirmed the Christmas display was safe for the public to attend.
Cr Harding said the council was also liaising with Queensland Health to ensure there were no risks of transmission to the public, with council officers keeping a close eye on flying fox activity in the park.
She said parks staff had removed any injured, ill or dead bats prior to the park opening in the morning and through the day if required.
“Council conducted all the appropriate risk and safety checks before this year’s Christmas Wonderland was installed and Workplace Health and Safety confirmed people could continue to come to the gardens at night and enjoy the amazing displays without disturbing the resident flying fox population,” Cr Harding said.
“The message is clear from Queensland Health experts: bats should not be handled by members of the public under any circumstances, even if they appear dead. Only people who are trained and appropriately vaccinated should handle bats.”
As part of added precautions for the Christmas event every ticket holder will be advised of the recent virus discovery and offered a refund if they no longer wish to attend.
Extra signage will also be placed around the gardens advising attendees of the inherent risk with the bat population in the park and to avoid coming into physical contact with them.