Northern Territory health authorities are warning Australian visitors to Bali to beware of the risk of contracting rabies from monkeys as well as dogs and to get the pre-exposure anti-rabies vaccinations before they travel.
The Centre for Disease Control in Darwin said it had treated nearly 30 returning travellers for monkey and dog bites at the Centre for Disease Control in Darwin over the past two years.
Twenty-three of them had been bitten or scratched by a monkey. A further five were bitten by a dog. None of them contracted rabies.
The rabies outbreak in Bali, which began two years ago, has so far killed around 80 people, not including people in the Ungasan area of the Bukit who died of unidentified causes before health authorities here conceded rabies was present in November 2008.
Since then a massive dog cull and vaccination campaign has been put in place.
The Director of the Centre for Disease Control in Darwin, Dr Vicki Krause, said most cases of rabies had been near the popular southern tourist region of Bali.
“However, caution against exposure to the disease is encouraged throughout the entire island,” Dr Krause said.
Rabies is a fatal disease that is usually transmitted through a bite or scratch from an infected animal. Visitors are being warned to avoid dogs and monkeys, which often try to steal food or visitor’s property at temples.
Dr Krause recommended people planning to visit Bali should see their doctor for a pre-exposure rabies vaccination course before they travelled.
“If you do get bitten or scratched while in Bali, wash the wound well with soap and water as soon as possible and see a doctor for review. You may need to return to Australia early for treatment,” she told the local Darwin newspaper, the NT News.