Australian bat lyssavirus

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Australian Bat Lyssavirus

Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV) is a virus of the lyssavirus genus which is closely related to the common rabies virus. ABLV is one of twelve types of lyssavirus which are found around the world. ABLV is the only one of these known to occur in Australia.

FamilyGenusSpeciesRelated diseases
RhabdoviridaeLyssavirusRabies virusRabies
Australian bat lyssavirusAustralian bat fever
Bats are the only known reservoirs for ABLV. ABLV has been isolated from five bat species including all four common species of flying fox present in mainland Australia (Pteropus alecto, P. poliocephalus, P. scapulatus and P. conspicullatus) and the insectivorous microbat Saccolaimus flaviventris, however it is thought that all Australian bats serve as host reservoirs of the virus. ABLV can infect animals and humans.

Since the discovery of ABLV in 1996, three people have died as a result of ABLV infection after being bitten or scratched by bats in Australia. In May 2013, two horses were diagnosed with ABLV.

Transmission of the virus from bats to horses is thought to be by a bite or scratch, or potentially due to exposure to bat saliva. ABLV is unlikely to survive outside the bat for more than a few hours, especially in dry environments that are exposed to sunlight.


Progressive ataxia


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Fluorescent antibody test (FAT)



There is no specific treatment available for ABLV.
Proper cleansing of the wound reduces the risk of infection. If the horse was bitten or scratched, immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water for at least five minutes. If available, an antiseptic with anti-virus action such as povidone-iodine, iodine tincture, aqueous iodine solution or alcohol (ethanol) should be applied after washing.


Scientific Research

General Overviews

Risk Factors

  • Poor biosecurity procedures

Causative agent