A warning has been issued by Hunter New England Heath after seven people in the region have been treated for bats bites and scratches so far this year.
That's one every second day.
Recent high temperatures have affected the health of bats, prompting people to pick them up from the ground or attempt to rescue them.
The message from authorities is to not touch them as they may be carrying the lyssavirus infection.
"While there have been three cases of infection in Australia over the past 40 years, lyssavirus is very serious and almost always fatal," said public health physician Dr David Durrheim.
"Always assume that all bats and flying foxes are infectious, regardless of whether the animal looks sick or not," he said.
What to do if someone is bitten or scratched:
- Thoroughly clean the wound for at least five minutes with soap and water.
- As soon as possible, apply an antiseptic solution and seek urgent medical advice.
- Contact your GP or the local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055 who can provide advice on treatment.
A series of urgent injections to protect against lyssavirus infection may be required.