Researcher seeks public views on flying foxes

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A large flying fox (Pteropus vampyrus)
A large flying fox (Pteropus vampyrus).

Queenslanders are invited to share their thoughts and views in a new survey on flying foxes, the native fruit bats capable of carrying the deady Hendra virus.

Biosecurity Queensland researcher Dr Hume Field said the community survey on flying foxes was now available online or by mail upon request.

The Hendra virus is endemic among flying foxes. The virus can be passed on to horses and on seven occasions the virus has  been passed from horses to humans. Four of those cases proved fatal.

“We are particularly interested in people’s attitudes to flying foxes and their understanding of the risk factors for Hendra virus,” Field said.

“The survey also asks questions about attitudes to the dispersal of flying fox colonies in local communities.”

It takes less than 10 minutes to complete and all responses will be treated confidentially, Field said.

Field said he encouraged people to take part, especially if they lived in a community where flying foxes were considered problematic.

Field said responses would be used to identify knowledge gaps and inform the direction of future communication programs run by government agencies.

“Education is one of the most important tools in our arsenal against Hendra virus,” Dr Field said.

“While many people have taken an active role in educating themselves about the risks factors for Hendra virus, there is still a lot of misinformation surrounding the issue.

“This is the third and last in a series of surveys designed to collect and analyse stakeholder opinions and attitudes on Hendra virus and flying foxes.

“The first survey focused on horse owners while the second survey was designed to determine attitudes of vets.”

The community survey on flying foxes is jointly conducted by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

This research is supported by the Queensland Government, the New South Wales Government and the Australian Government under the National Hendra Virus Research Program.

The survey closes on October 12.

 

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