Don’t Be Fooled. Rabies In Australia Is Real

Australia is listed as Rabies free. This is true to an extent – Rabies virus has never been detected in a dog or any other terrestrial mammal.

However, this claim is not completely true. The fact is – there is Rabies in Australia and it goes under the name Lissa Virus.

Lissa virus is Rabies. It is carried by a large proportion of Australian bats – both insectivores and fruit eating bats (‘flying foxes’). A bite from a Lissa virus infected bat can transmit Rabies to a human. A number of humans have died in Australia from Rabies picked up from a bat bite.

The kind of ‘creative disease concealment’ might be good for the tourism industry but it breeds a dangerous kind of confidence. many people, even people working with bats, don’t know the risks. The other concern is that if (when!) the virus get into the dog population, the country will be completely unprepared.

So as much as it hurts me to burst the bubble – I think it’s time we admit that Australia is not Rabies free.

About Dr Vadim Chelom

Dr Vadim is a house call Veterinarian in Melbourne


  1. angela

    Do you suggest we have shots then if bitten by a dog.

    • No. Not if bitten by a dog. But Yes, absolutely if bitten by a bat! In that case you should be rushing to the doctor as an emergency! I am completely serious here.

  2. Paul Turner

    I had a dog that was bitten by a bat, that dog went on to bite a person and was put down without testing.
    I couldn’t house the dog till the fury died down and the only offer was euthanase it. In hind site the dog was very different suddenly before the bite.

    • Dear Paul,
      That’s a terrible situation to be in. I honestly empathize with what you must have gone through.

      Unfortunately there is no test for Rabies, except after death. That means there is no way to know if the bite victim (dog or person) has Rabies or not. This is why the authorities would always demand euthanasia of a dog bitten by a bat (in Australia).

      I believe there isn’t enough education of dog owners regarding grave danger bats pose to dogs and people. I hope that education and real-life stories of people like yourself will change that.

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