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Ebola, Lyssa, Hendra? Don’t believe everything you hear

How are you enjoying the news at the moment? Sick of media beat up? ISIS, G20, Ebola Virus? Me too! My media filter is mostly pretty good, but sometimes … enough is enough.

Here’s what got me cranky. A story a week or so ago in

Lyssavirus fears as three bitten by infected bats

The story explains that: “THREE NSW residents were bitten or scratched this week by bats carrying the potentially fatal lyssavirus­. One was a wildlife worker, one a veterinarian and one a member of the public.”

Potentially fatal – yes. But no-one died, right?

Oh, but don’t worry, if that didn’t scare you, this will: “In the past month, 32 people required ­rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) following high-risk exposures to ­potentially infected animals.”

Disaster! Rabies, here in Australia? But then you read a bit further and discover that “only five of those people reported “local” bat exposures, while the remaining 27 people had animal bites or scratches while travelling overseas.” So, the people exposed were mostly affected by animals outside Australia? Mmm, that’s not so scary is it?

Oh yes, it is scary. Scary enough that the reporter is thrilled to report that, luckily, a “shoot-to-kill bat policy has been approved targeting nuisance colonies that drop faeces, shriek next to homes and schools and bombard farms.” And, wait for it “An anti-bats package will give councils outside metropolitan areas extra powers to move on nuisance flying fox ­colonies.”

Oh thank goodness! An anti-bats package. That’ll do it. I mean, bats are terrifying! We’re all at risk, 3 people were scratched weren’t they (2 of whom work with bats)? Because, as the environmental minister says in the article:

People’s health must come first!

So, is this the plan? We get rid of all the nasty, scary, annoying bats, save 3 people from getting scratched while doing their job, and then we all die from malaria and the effects of global warming. Because, Environment Minister, micro bats eat mosquitoes (the worlds biggest killer), and mega bats pollinate rainforests (which help balance carbon emissions). Without bats, far more than 3 people’s lives are at risk! Isn’t it time we got our priorities right?

Since the release of my second book, Spud & Charli, I have been spreading the word about bats and how crucial they are to the environment. Ugly, noisy, smelly … yes, but if we want a healthy planet (and we do, don’t we, Environmental Minister?) – crucial.

Please do your bit. Help me and other animal lovers diffuse the media beat up that feeds on scare tactics. Be informed, and understand the truth behind crazy media stories.

Full news article

Worlds deadliest animals

About Samantha Wheeler

Australian Children's Writer.

5 responses »

  1. Before I read that article I only mildly disliked News Corp. As I said in my response to the accompanying editorial – A new term needs to be invented for “journalism” such as this, because ‘gutter press’ doesn’t do it justice. As it turned out the “Anti Bat Package” (the Draft NSW Flying-fox Camp Management Policy) is not as horrific as the article inferred. It’s bad enough – but it is open for comment until December 1. So News Corp even got that part wrong.
    But Samantha ‘Ugly’ is in the eye of the beholder. As a wildlife carer who has handled hundreds of Flying foxes, I have to say that to me megabats are every bit as cute as Koalas, just not as dopey. Some microbats do have a certain ‘character’ to their face that takes a bit of getting used to. 🙂

    • Oh I totally agree Steve! I think bats are gorgeous! Just ugly and smelly to those who never get the chance to get to know them. Thanks so much for your insightful comments. I’m glad you enjoyed my blog, and that you are able to see beyond the sensationalism too! Keep up the great work as a carer, you guys are invaluable!

  2. Go girl Go! I hear your cry and feel your angst although, I side with Steve somewhat on one point I feel you have erred. I don’t find bats overtly ugly, noisy or smelly at all! (and that’s after living close by them.) 😉 (But of course, I know you don’t either) I continue to pity those on this planet who have neither the time nor inclination to step past their own ugly, noisy, smelly selves preferring to be herded by sensationalism. Keep up the good cry.

    • Thanks Dimity, they are the most gorgeous under rated little beings! But if we can’t even save our gorgeous koalas, what hope have these poor critters got?

      • Never say never Sam. Sadly for the koalas but point in favour for the FBs is that they do have a real (or say more tangible) use than our fluffy eared friends. Giant bee / insect control is not to be taken lightly. But then again, people who can’t get their head around the bee pollination thing are not likely to understand this bigger version or importance of eco-balance. Humans are so irksome. 😦

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