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Man hospitalised after coming into contact with bat waste

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December 30, 2017

When Lyle Jensen was rushed to Townsville Hospital with a mystery illness, he wondered if he would make it home for Christmas or at all.
Then he realised the illness was likely linked with the flying fox infestation in Charters Towers.
Mr Jensen was hospitalised for a week with streptococcus, cellulitis and an acute kidney injury believed to be a side effect of the streptococcus, which he claimed was caused by bacteria in bat droppings.
He became severely ill soon after moving signs with bat droppings on them and, when Charters Towers Hospital could not diagnose his illness, he was transferred to Townsville Hospital for further testing.
“They were asking me where I could have got the germ from and it took me a couple of days to work out where I got it,” he said. “By process of elimination, the only way I could have got it was from that sign.”
Mr Jensen said his health scare should spark action on the plague, which has been the subject of protests and community angst.
“This was too close and I have suffered greatly because of it, so I’m calling on our government to listen to this town and get rid of the bats,” he said. “There have been other people who have been bitten by ticks, and bats carry fleas, it’s like a plague.”
Tropical Public Health Unit director Dr Richard Gair said there was no known increased risk of streptococcal infections as a result of contact with bats.
“Typically, streptococcal infections are spread through person-to-person contact such as via sneezing, coughing, or touching an open wound,” he said. “Streptococcal infections are usually species-specific but it has been known on occasion to be transmitted from pigs and dogs to humans.”
Townsville Public Health Unit registrar Dr Julie Mudd said that, as of December 20, Charters Towers Hospital confirmed no one had presented with a bite from a bat tick.
“Patients periodically present to the Charters Towers Health Service with scratches from bats, normally sustained when they are attempting to assist injured or baby bats,” she said.
Dr Mudd said flying foxes and bats may carry harmful bacteria and viruses but there had been no reports of those diseases in Charters Towers.
“Australian bat lyssavirus, hendra virus and leptospirosis are not transmitted by ticks, mites, lice, or other insects,” she said. “The best protection against being exposed to a bat-borne virus is to avoid handling any bat or flying fox.”
Kennedy MP and Mr Jensen’s friend Bob Katter said Charters Towers had been “destroyed” by an aversion to culling animals.
“Those people are seriously dangerous. They put the value of human life very much behind the value of their belief systems,” he said.
“The danger to health overrides all other considerations.”
Mr Katter said he was prepared to sue the State Government if a solution was not put in place.
“Now we know there is a real danger to health, we are proceeding to take legal action to enforce our right to protect our people,” he said. “We will also be proceeding with legal action for the loss of land value that the Government has taken away by preventing us from removing the bats.”
Lissner Park in Charters Towers remains closed to the public to avoid the risk of contracting infections from bats or bat droppings.
Traeger MP Robbie Katter said the solution to the infestation would not come without a political battle.
“We really need people like Lyle to come forward and tell their story,” he said.
“We’ve got a big fight against us to do something about these pests and there is absolutely no question about how serious and big the problem is.”
A GoFundMe page was created to help Mr Jensen with ongoing medical costs. To donate: gofundme.com/please-help-at-a-time-of-need

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BatsRule!: Man hospitalised after coming into contact with bat waste
Man hospitalised after coming into contact with bat waste
Man hospitalised after coming into contact with bat waste
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