Aussie tourist cops $6,000 bill for rabies shots after monkey bite in Bali

The woman was told by doctors of the deadly outcome the infectious virus can have, but she couldn't hold back her laughter.

The woman lies on a medical bed after being bitten by monkey (left) and she stands with a monkey holding her leg at the sanctuary in Bali (right).
The Aussie had to get rabies shots after being bitten by a monkey in Bali. Source: Instagram

Aussies are being reminded to take simple travel precautions after a woman visiting Bali says she had to cough up $6,000 to pay for rabies shots after she was bitten by a monkey at an animal sanctuary, later admitting she "never liked" the animals to begin with.

Visiting an animal sanctuary is a common activity among Australian travellers when visiting Indonesia, and in a bid to tick it off her bucket list, Jami Groves posed for pictures with monkeys at Monkey Forest in Ubud before they started to bite her.

"Three monkeys climbed up my legs and started biting me, I had to stand still because I was worried they'd all chase me," she told Yahoo News. "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 jewellery but didn't know about the biting."

She rushed to hospital where a friend captured footage of her lying on a medical bed surrounded by doctors in a rather bizarre scene.

"So, if she gets rabies, she'll never be cured?" her friend is heard asking the doctors in the footage shared to social media. The girls couldn't help but see the funny side, however the response that came back was anything but a joke.

"No, by the time you know she has rabies it'll be too late," the doctor responded.

The women burst out laughing at the remark — much to the visible confusion of the Indonesian medics. As they tried to compose themselves, the woman who was bitten repeatedly says aloud; "It's not funny, it's not funny."

In the end, Jami says she paid thousands of dollars for eight doses of preventative rabies shots, known as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which can stop the potential virus from reaching the central nervous system. Because if that were to happen, it would be 100 per cent fatal.

"I had to use the entirety of my Europe [trip] funds to pay for the medical bills which ended up costing me around $6,000 including international transaction fees. So I am pretty gutted... I hate monkeys," Jami said.

The Australian tourist seen approaching a cat on Bali.
The young Aussie was exploring the island before she was bitten. Source: Instagram

This isn't the first time an Aussie tourist has been caught off guard and faced high medical costs after being bitten by an animal overseas.

Tasmanian woman Sarah Lancaster racked up $60,000 in medical bills after she was bitten by a cat in Nicaragua, Central America last March, forcing her to drop her travel plans in a desperate search for medical assistance. Her travel insurance thankfully covered the costs, with the woman admitting she would have been at a total loss without it.

Aussie travellers visiting Indonesia are advised to avoid contact with monkeys, even in places where tourists are encouraged to interact with them, such as popular monkey forests.

"If bitten or scratched by an animal immediately use soap and water to wash the wound thoroughly and seek urgent medical attention," the Smart Traveller website reads.

Rabies treatment in Indonesia may be limited, the government website states. "If you're bitten you may need to return to Australia, or travel to another country, for immediate treatment," it adds.

With Bali and Central America being popular holiday destinations for Aussies it's vital to get "comprehensive travel insurance" so travellers aren't caught out if they experience such an animal mishap while abroad.

"Comprehensive travel insurance policies differ [so] it's important to take note that not all policies offer the same cover, and some may restrict or exclude certain activities and benefits," 1Cover spokesperson, Natalie Smith told Yahoo News. "Medical expenses overseas can be eye-wateringly high and far more than one may expect."

Looking at the fine print and considering what factors, such as age and pre-existing illnesses, are relevant to each traveller and ensuring they are included in the insurance plan will help Aussies get assistance if they need it.

Smith believes there is one thing all travellers should look for when choosing an insurance plan, deeming it important for every Aussie traveller.

"See if your chosen insurer offers emergency assistance service. A 24-hour assistance hotline can be hugely beneficial when experiencing a crisis abroad," she added.

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