Rabies and other Lyssavirus (including Australian Bat Lyssavirus)

Statutory notification alert

Rabies and other lyssavirus infections are urgently notifiable infectious diseases in Western Australia.

Public health management

Important information

  • Infectious agents: Rabies virus, Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV), and other lyssaviruses such as European bat lyssavirus (EBLV) 1 and EBLV 2.
  • Transmission: People are usually infected following a bite or scratch from an animal infected with the virus.
  • Incubation period: Usually 3 to 8 weeks, rarely as short as a few days or as long as several years, depending on features of the wound. The incubation period for ABLV and other lyssavirus infections is less certain but is assumed to be similar to rabies virus.
  • Infectious period: The infectious period for rabies virus infection has been described reliably only in dogs, cats and ferrets, in which communicability usually commences 3 to 7 days before onset of clinical signs and persists throughout the course of the illness. The period of communicability of ABLV and other lyssaviruses is not known.
  • Case exclusion: Case should be isolated for duration of the illness.
  • Contact exclusion: Do not exclude.
  • Treatment: Post-exposure management is recommended for anyone with a potential exposure. There is no known effective treatment for people with rabies.
  • Immunisation: Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP) with rabies vaccine is recommended for people whose occupation (including volunteer work) or recreational activities place them at increased risk of being bitten or scratched by bats, and, following a risk assessment, those who work in or travel to rabies-enzootic countries. See Australian Immunisation Handbook (external site).
  • Case follow-up: Conducted by the Communicable Disease Control Directorate (contact details listed under 'Public Health').

Guidelines for health providers for post-exposure management

If patients have had possible exposure to rabies or lyssavirus (including Australian bat lyssavirus) overseas or within Australia, to access rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which includes rabies vaccine and human rabies immunoglobin (HRIG) (if indicated) and for management advice:

  • during office hours contact your public health unit, or
  • outside office hours contact the on call duty officer on 9328 0553.

Rabies immunoglobulin and/or vaccine will be supplied by WA Health as required. Visit:

Guidelines and forms for WA Health public/population health unit use

Notifiable disease data and reports

Last reviewed: 20-09-2022
Produced by

Public Health