Amanda Tabone and 10-year-old Eva were on a girls' trip with friends when they booked a trip to Ubud Monkey Forest. They were just 10 minutes into their visit when things went wrong.
"We saw a worker with a young monkey, encouraging it to interact with the guests," Amanda told Yahoo News Australia. "Eva sat on the bench seat next to it and another monkey came along and sat on her lap, surprising her. The monkey the worker was interacting with must have got jealous and bit her on the back."
Fortunately, while "a little shocked", the little girl was not rattled at all by the incident. "She has two older brothers so is quite tough," her mum said.
Amanda immediately wiped the bite with hand sanitiser before visiting an on-site nurse. "She cleaned the wound with antiseptic and put on a Band-Aid," Amanda recalled.
"She also showed us medical papers to say the monkeys get tested and no viruses were found in the blood work. We added our names to the extensive bite list book and went on our way."
Hospital runs out of vaccines
But a couple of hours later, Amanda really started to worry. "I got my resort reception to organise a taxi to the nearest hospital only to find out the vaccine needed was out of supply, as there are so many bite victims," the 37-year-old said.
"Luckily, the hospital called another clinic close by who had the required vaccines and $950 later, she had her three doses of rabies vaccine, as well as the immunoglobulin needed and herpes medication.
"Our travel insurance company referred us to Australian doctors, who have since said the treatment plan the Bali doctors gave us was spot on."
Mum to take extra precautions next time
Since arriving back home on Saturday, Eva has had another shot and still has one more to go. But the brave girl "couldn't wait to tell the story to her friends at school" on the NSW Central Coast.
Her mother, however, will be much more cautious when she next heads to Bali. "I can't wait to go back with my boys, but maybe not the monkeys this time, and I'll probably get the vaccine before we go," she explained. "If we were vaccinated against rabies before we left, we would only need two shots of the rabies vax."
Ubud Monkey Forest addresses attack
Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, a spokesperson for the Ubud Monkey Forest said the facility works with a primate research centre to undertake an annual sterilisation program and maintain the health of its animals, but their behaviour can be unpredictable.
"The monkeys in Monkey Forest Ubud are wild animals, and they have unpredictable reactions," the spokesperson said. "The visitors may get bitten or scratched by a monkey because they have an interaction, such as feeding or taking pictures.
"To avoid any accident — scratch or bite — we provide guidelines so you know what to expect. The guidelines should be followed by the visitor for their safety during the visit. Our staff are also available in some points of the forest to oversee the visitor and the monkey."
Aussies warned to avoid animals while travelling
The incident comes just weeks after NSW Health issued a warning for Australians to "avoid physical contact with any animals" in Bali and other tourists hotspots, after more than 145 returning travellers from the state required treatment for animal bites and scratches this year alone. The majority of those incidents occurred at destinations such as the Ubud Monkey Forest and others like it across Southeast Asia.
"If you are bitten or scratched, you should wash the wound well with lots of soap and water for at least 15 minutes and use antiseptic solution that has antiviral properties, such as povidone-iodine, to help prevent infection. You should also seek rapid medical advice regarding the prevention of rabies, tetanus, and other viral and bacterial infections," said NSW Health's Keira Glasgow.
"If you still feel unwell after returning home from travelling, even if you have had medical treatment, please contact your GP immediately or call Triple 0 if it is an emergency," she added.
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