Credit: Central Western Daily

People in Orange are advised not to touch grey headed flying foxes under any circumstances, Greater Western Area Health Services (GWAHS)'s latest warn issued.

GWASH reminded people of the potentially life threatening health risks related with the animals especially with a colony of several thousands of the native fruit bats now residing in their neighborhood.

Potentially fatal disease like Lyssavirus can be carried by all types of bats, including both flying foxes and microbats.

Ingo Steppat, area coordinator of GWAHS Environmental Health Services said it was unsafe for people to touch bats.

The greates risk of Lyssavirus in Australia is from handling bats and people trying to free bats that may have become caught on fences or in netting that protects fruit orchards, he said.

There is a chance that people who handle bats may become infected with Lyssavirus, which is transmitted by the bite or scratch from a bat.

Lyssavirus is a rare rabies-like viral infection that can be fatal to humans. Once Lyssavirus infection is established there is no treatment available.

Call WIRES or the National Parks and Wildlife Service if anyone should find a bat caught in a fence or netting, or in distress on the ground.

The large number of flying foxes posed a serious risk if people were not educated, said Mr Steppat.

With the recent increase in the number of flying foxes it will only be a matter of time before some become caught in man-made structures.

If people find injured or vulnerable bats they should not touch them or attempt to pick them up, said Mr Steppat.

Anyone bitten or scratched by a bat should wash the area thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.

A series of injections of rabies vaccine is given to people exposed to the virus, for over a one-month period to halt development of the disease.

There is also risk of E. coli contamination of fruits and rainwater tanks, warned GWAHS. All locally grown fruits should be thoroughly cleaned before consumption.

Contaminated tank must be treated with sodium hypochlorite and water should be boiled before drinking.