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Advising owners on managing Australian bat lyssavirus risks

This is a short, easy-reference guide for advising animal owners about managing the Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV) risk. Consult the complete document, ABLV—Information for veterinarians, for more comprehensive information about managing the risk of ABLV in animals.

Use the ABLV information checklist for owners as a basis for advising owners about managing the ABLV risk to a potentially exposed, clinically well animal, and document their informed consent.

Obligations of veterinarians to advise owners

No single option for ABLV risk mitigation is preferable in all circumstances. The higher the risk, the less appropriate it is to try to minimise risk by monitoring and reporting. The lower the risk, a decision to euthanase becomes increasingly unnecessary and disproportionate.

As a veterinarian, you should:

  • provide the owner with advice to make an informed decision about what the most appropriate option would be
  • document the basis on which the owner makes an informed decision in the patient's clinical record, given the likelihood of infection, the potential consequences, and the pros and cons specific to the circumstances. In particular, document that the owner's decision to vaccinate post‑exposure, or to monitor and report, is made knowing that neither option reduces the risk to zero.

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