Traveller issues monkey rabies warning

Busselton resident Karen Sheppard received a rabies vaccine after being bitten on the hand by a monkey in Bali.

A Busselton woman who had to have a precautionary rabies vaccine after being bitten by a monkey in Bali has sent a warning to travellers.

Karen Sheppard was holidaying in Bali this month when she decided to visit a monkey forest with her daughter as a birthday treat.

She said it wasn't pleasant, with monkeys jumping on the visitors and being aggressive.

A monkey bit her on the back of the hand and punctured her skin, but initially she was not too concerned.

"I took an alcohol wipe and put iodine on it when I got home," she said.

"I actually spoke to one of the members of staff and I asked if they had any diseases and he said 'No, you're fine'."

Mrs Sheppard arrived home four days later and confided in a friend who had studied tropical diseases, who advised her to seek medical attention.

It was then she found out she had a small chance of contracting rabies from the bite.

"First of all I rang the health line and he said 'you need to go to hospital or a doctor within an hour; and then I panicked," she said. "It's really low-risk but because it's fatal it's one of those things."

Mrs Sheppard had her first of five vaccinations on Wednesday and said it was quite painful.

She said she did not want to deter people from visiting Bali, but would hate for someone else to go through the same experience, especially a child.

"Rabies is rare and this was just a precautionary measure but I want to raise awareness," she said.

WA Country Health Service South West physician Naru Pal said monkey bites were quite common. "WACHS South West provides post-exposure prophylaxis for one to two persons a month for monkey bites in Bali," he said.

"Travellers are advised to avoid close contact with monkeys and other wild or domestic terrestrial mammals, including dogs and cats."

Dr Pal said if bitten or scratched by a monkey, travellers should immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water for at least five minutes, apply an antiseptic and seek medical attention.

Doctors can contact the South West Public Health Unit on 9781 2350 for advice.