The virus can be transmitted from bats to humans when infected bat saliva enters the human body, usually by a bite or scratch, but also by getting bat saliva in the eyes, nose or mouth (mucous membrane exposure) or onto a pre-existing break in the skin.
The virus is also found in the nervous system of affected bats. Therefore needlesticks or cuts from a sharp item that has been used on a bat, or coming into contact with brain tissue from a bat, are also possibly ways of transmitting ABLV.
ABLV is unlikely to survive outside the bat or in a dead bat for more than a few hours, especially in dry environments that are exposed to sunlight. Coming into contact with bat faeces, urine or blood do not pose a risk of exposure to ABLV, nor do living, playing or walking near bat roosting areas. There is no evidence to suggest ABLV could be contracted by eating fruit partially eaten by a bat. However, any fruit that has been partially eaten by any animal should be discarded as it could be contaminated by a variety of germs.
The time from exposure to the virus to the start of symptoms is variable; of the three known human cases of ABLV infection, one became ill several weeks after being bitten by a bat and another became ill more than two years after a bat bite. The timeframe around exposure of the third case is not confirmed. Classical rabies virus also shows a wide variability in time between exposure and illness, from weeks to years. Therefore, it is vital to seek medical advice even if some time has elapsed since the exposure.