18 Feb 2013

Boy in coma with bat virus

2:03 pm on 18 February 2013

A Queensland boy is in an induced coma after being bitten by a bat. He is critically ill with a bat-borne virus.

It's only the third confirmed case of the Australian Bat Lyssavirus recorded in Australia. The other two victims, both infected in Queensland, died.

Queensland Health on Monday told AAP the boy, aged eight, is in a critical but stable condition and remains in an induced coma.

Media reports say the boy is from Cairns and he was bitten or scratched by a bat while on holiday in the Whitsundays about two months ago.

A few weeks ago he developed a brain infection that led to fits.

Queensland Health says extra supplies of a rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin for those exposed to lyssavirus have been sent to some hospitals in the state.

AAP reports the virus causes paralysis, delirium and convulsions. Death is usually caused by respiratory paralysis.

Of the two known human cases, one became ill several weeks after being bitten by a bat while the other became ill more than two years after a bat bite.

Federal MP Bob Katter, who holds the north Queensland seat of Kennedy, last week said it was time to revisit the idea of culling bats.