Rabies and other lyssaviruses (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. Australian Immunisation Handbook, Department of Health – Rabies and other lyssaviruses (external site).
  • Case follow-up: Conducted by the local public health unit.

Guidelines for rabies post-exposure management

If patients have had possible exposure to rabies or other lyssaviruses (including Australian bat lyssavirus) overseas or within Australia, health providers should contact public health for advice to access rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP):

Contact details for possible exposure to rabies or other lyssaviruses 
  • during office hours contact your public health unit, or
  • outside office hours contact the on call-duty officer on 9328 0553 to speak to the public health physician.

Rabies immunoglobulin and/or vaccine will be provided by WA Health as required. For more information visit:

Forms for WA Health public health use only

Notifiable disease data and reports

Last reviewed: 08-08-2023
Produced by

Public Health