Tourists Must Take Risk Of Rabies Seriously In Bali

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Tourists in Bali and those planning to visit areas where monkeys live are being advised to take the risk of rabies seriously.

While many of Bali’s primate attractions have rabies safety protocols in place, tourists who are at risk of being exposed to the deadly virus must ensure they follow post-exposure protocols too. 

Monkeys At Ubud Monkey Forest in BaliMonkeys At Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali

The news comes after an Australian tourist was left with a hefty medical bill for post-exposure rabies vaccinations after she was bitten by a monkey at the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud.

Jami Groves, who was on vacation in Bali with her friend, took a visit to the world-famous Monkey Forest last week.

During her visit, she was bitten on the calf by a young monkey. A video of Groves in consultation with a doctor at a nearby hospital after the incident shows her laughing and her friend asking for confirmation on the seriousness of the situation. 

In a press interview, Groves explained, “Three monkeys climbed up my legs and started biting me; I had to stand still because I was worried they’d all chase me.”

“I was under the impression that the Monkey Forest was an interactive experience and wasn’t officially warned of any dangers around the monkeys. We knew they took jewelry but didn’t know about the biting.”

The Scared Monkey Forest in Ubud has a lot of signage around the reception area and public walkway explaining how to behave around the monkeys, and there is generally staff stationed throughout the forest complex to monitor the behavior of both the monkeys and tourists.

The Monkey Forest Ubud has confirmed on many occasions that since the site opened as a tourist destination in 1960, they have never found any cases of rabies or infectious diseases on their resident troops.

Nevertheless, they have a series of protocols in place to ensure that visitors and staff are safe in the event of a monkey bite, including having an on-site first aid clinic, staff medics, and connections with local hospitals for post-exposure rabies vaccinations.

In the event that a tourist is scratched or bitten by a monkey while visiting the Monkey Forst Ubud, it is imperative to report the incident to the nearest member of staff, especially if they did not see it happen.

Staff need to be able to get the person who has been bitten to a medical professional as quickly as possible to start cleaning the wound, and they need to be able to identify the monkey in question, too.

Even the smallest scratch, wound, or area of broken skin is a risk for catching rabies. Speaking to the media, the Head of Human Resource Development at Monkey Forest, Nensi Suyanti, said that Groves did not visit the on-site medical team following the bite.

Monkey forest, Ubud, IndonesiaMonkey forest, Ubud, Indonesia

Suyanti said, “Earlier, we checked the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) camera. The female foreigner was walking around using a chain bag tied around her waist, and in one of our tourist areas, she appeared to have been bitten by a small monkey on her thigh and calf, but she continued to walk around. tourist area without the impression of being bitten by a monkey.”

Suyanti added, “Usually every time there is a bite, we first treat it at [our] clinic, then refer us to the hospital to get a vaccine or anti-rabies serum. In this case, there was purely no reporting to field officers.” 

Two-Monkeys-Play-on-Mossy-Stone-in-Daytime-at-Ubud-Monkey-Forest-in-BaliTwo-Monkeys-Play-on-Mossy-Stone-in-Daytime-at-Ubud-Monkey-Forest-in-Bali

Tourists visiting Bali must ensure that they have fully comprehensive travel and medical insurance before their visit.

Tourists are also recommended to have their rabies vaccination before traveling to Indonesia too. The rabies vaccination does not mean that patients don’t need the post-exposure vaccination if they have been wounded by a potentially rabies-carrying animal, but it does reduce the risk of contracting rabies, a virus that is fatal in all cases and has killed people in Bali in the last 12 months.

Groves had to pay AUD 6,000 for her post-exposure rabies vaccinations, using up her savings for an upcoming trip to Europe. 

Vaccination of senior person in hospitalVaccination of senior person in hospital

In the event that someone is bitten or scratched by an animal the advice from the likes of the World Health Organisation is to immediately use soap and scrub the wound throughly for at least five minutes and seek medical attention immediately. 


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