The Facts You need to Know about Rabies in Monkey bites


Exciting Bali Traveling Insights &

Has anyone here ever visited Bali’s Monkey Forest in Ubud? If you guys are paying attention, there is a sign which warns tourists like this, “Do not stare at or tease the monkeys!”

Indeed, it is a clever advice. It would be even better if it is like, “Do not feed the monkeys! Don’t pat them! Stay well clear!”

But, then the woman who sits nearby selling bananas to tourists to feed the ever-hungry macaques would probably be out of business. As it turns out she does a brisk trade. And so are the local doctors. By now, you probably have read an article in 2016, about the rabies case which done by the monkey bites.

Anthony Wallace, an Aussie traveller, was on a seven-day holiday with his girlfriend Libby McManus, when he was bitten in the head at Ubud’s Monkey Forest. After the bite happened, Mr Wallace went to a first-aid centre at the monkey forest.

A Balinese doctor cleaned the wounds with salty water and antiseptic and administered a tetanus shot. The management said that the monkeys in Ubud’s Monkey forest get tested for rabies once a year by an Australian doctor and the monkeys don’t have rabies, but it was up to Wallace, whether he wanted a rabies shot or not.

He then sought advice from a Central Coast doctor when he returned home. The doctor told him that if he gets rabies you will surely die.

Medical records showed rabies was almost always fatal after neurological symptoms had appeared. However, vaccination could prevent the disease even after exposure. Wallace decided to undergo treatment, which included an immunoglobulin injection into the bite wounds which is in his head.

Additionally, Mr Wallace must have four shots of rabies vaccine over two weeks. He and his girlfriend took precautions when visiting the monkeys, but had not realised the extent of the dangers they posed. They didn’t take a backpack, sunglasses or hats to ensure the monkeys had nothing to grab. They had signs saying ‘don’t stare at or tease the monkeys.

But then a lady was selling bunches of bananas to feed the monkeys, which they agreed to do. One of the big monkeys jumped on his shoulder and he thought it was pretty cool. Then, he gave the banana and the monkey started to eat it. He was sure that he didn’t touch or provoke the monkey.

After that, something dropped on his pants, he looked down and the monkey kind of freaked out. The monkey then dropped the banana, wrapped its arm around his eyes and took a couple of big bites of his head, hard, twice, and then jumped off, and ran away.

Anthony Wallace then brought home his monkey memento-nasty-scalp-wounds. After getting basic first-aid in Bali, Mr Wallace returned to East Gosford in New South Wales to have rabies immunoglobulin injected around the wound and to begin a post-exposure course of four rabies vaccine injections to prevent infection.


The story above is far too common.

An Australian study found out that between 2007 and 2011, an average 13 Aussies a month returned home to face the long series of injections. Of the 780 possible rabies exposures in that period, 78.3% occurred in Southeast Asia – mainly Indonesia (47.6%). Of these, almost all (95.2%) occurred in Bali and most involved monkeys (49.4%) or dogs (35.8%).

Besides rabies, there is an added potential for macaques to transmit herpes B virus infection during the attack. It is important to thoroughly cleanse the wound with clean water for more than 5 minutes after a bite and get medical treatment as soon as possible so the risk can be assessed.)

Hundreds of animal bites occur each day in Bali and despite attempts to eradicate rabies on the island, the virus continues to claim victims. They are often young children, who are particularly vulnerable. Even in March 2016, there was a case about a 9-year-old boy from East Bali died 2 weeks after being bitten by his neighbour’s pet dog, according to a media report.


Rabies is present in almost every country on earth, but most human cases occur in Southeast Asia. While dogs are responsible for most of the estimated 55,000 deaths each year, virtually any mammal can carry the virus, typically passing it on by biting another animal, or a person.

When you’re overseas, do not ever patting, feeding or even approaching animals even if it is domestic or wild, healthy, sick or injured. We know that It is kind of problematic but the virus is always fatal once its symptoms manifest themselves so you can’t ignore a potential exposure.

For the record, here are a few things you might need to know about rabies…

You don’t have to be bitten to get infected. Though the case is a bit rare, the virus transmission could occur through infected saliva contacting the mucous membranes of your nose or eyes, or through a lick on a scratch or other break in the skin.

Infection is not immediate. After multiplying in the wound, the virus inevitably reaches nerve tissue. Then it travels via the nervous system to the brain, where it continues to multiply with progressively more gruesome and painful clinical symptoms. If rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is administered before the virus enters the nervous system, death can be prevented.

Animals may not appear rabid. The Hollywood image of a dog foaming at the mouth is a far less common sign of rabies than sudden, unexplained paralysis or a change in behaviour. A friendly cat may suddenly be very aggressive, while a normally playful puppy becomes shy and withdrawn. Not eating, eating strange (non-food) objects, pawing the mouth, appearing to choke, difficulty swallowing, chewing the bite wound, seizures, hypersensitivity to touch or sound are among the other sign an animal is infected.

Rabies incubation periods can vary. It usually takes 3-8 weeks for the rabies virus to incubate, but human cases have ranged from just days to years. That’s why it is important to receive PEP as soon as possible and start within 48 hours. If medical care was not sought at the time of the bite it is still possible to get PEP well after the potential exposure, because if the incubation period is at the protracted end, the PEP may still be effective. Only this week I initiated post-exposure treatment for someone bitten by a monkey 4 years ago because she did not realise that treatment was needed at the time.


While it’s 100% deadly, rabies is also 100% preventable. But, a series of steps needs to be taken in the right order to prevent infection.

  1. The wound needs to be cleansed thoroughly with lots of soap and water.
  2. If available, alcohol or iodine should be applied. The wound should be covered with gauze to prevent infection (but not bound), or left uncovered.
    3. It is critical to seek expert medical attention as soon as possible. (Don’t wait for confirmation that the animal was infected. That could take days – even weeks.) It’s important to find a medical facility experienced in rabies treatment that stocks (or can obtain quickly) both Human Rabies Immune Globulin (HRIG) and the first dose of rabies cell culture vaccine. Injected at the site of the wound, HRIG contains rabies antibodies that immediately inactivate and control the rabies virus until the vaccine begins to work.
    4. Have a tetanus booster, if one is required.
    5. Observe the wound for redness and discharge. Bacterial infection may occur after animal bites and antibiotics may be required.


  1. The behaviour of animals infected with the rabies virus will turn out to be more aggressive and difficult to control. This is caused by animal stress, anxiety and fear every time.
  2. Be sensitive to surrounding objects by directly attacking or gnawing.
  3. The animal’s saliva is excessive.
  4. Prefer hiding in dark and cold places because of fear of light, touch water and sound, can be physically seen from weakness, seizures, decreased appetite.
  5. Tails pointing down between 2 feet.


Here are few tips for you;

1.) Do not bring any bottles or cans into the forest.

2.) Try not to buy bananas. Yes, the monkeys are cute and you think it would be fun to feed them, but they will not settle for only one banana and they can get aggressive till they get them all.

3.) Do not have any food or candy in your pockets, handbag or backpack. The monkeys have an extremely well-developed sense of smell, and they will smell everything from a tiny bit of chocolate to a package of chewing gum. You can`t hide any food or candy from the monkeys, they will find it.

4.) Do not encourage the monkeys to climb up on you. They can bite and scratch, which in worst case can give infections and rabies or other diseases.

5.) Walk around the forest calm and peaceful, and do not approach the monkeys or get too close.

6.) If a monkey tries to climb onto you, don`t panic and scream and run. Try to find or call the officer in the place.

Monkey Forest or any other place with their wild monkey is a cool place, just as long as you are educated and prepared, and know the risk of being bitten if you get too close to the monkeys. Be careful about giving them food and don’t encourage them to climb on you. They look so small, cute and innocent, but they can be very aggressive.

Bali is a beautiful country, with exceptionally beautiful people and culture, but please seek medical attention if you get any kind of scratch or bite from an animal in this country. Just be aware of your surroundings and don`t go too close to the monkeys, and you will have a great time.