Avoid rabies on your next trip

15 December 2023

If you are planning to travel overseas and hope to see some amazing wildlife, you might want to think twice before you pet that cute bat or monkey. They could be carrying a deadly virus that can ruin your trip and your health.

Monkey sitting on a bench

Rabies is a serious disease that affects the brain and nervous system. It is caused by a virus that is usually transmitted through the bites, scratches or saliva of infected animals.

Rabies is fatal if not treated before symptoms appear. 

Overseas, dogs are the main source of rabies in humans, but other animals like bats and monkeys can also carry the virus. These animals may look harmless, but they can bite or scratch you without warning.

Be careful when you travel to places where rabies is common

  • Avoid contact with wild or stray animals, even if they seem friendly or tame.
  • Do not allow young children to feed, pat, or play with animals; their height makes them vulnerable to bites to the face, head, and neck.
  • Do not carry food in the vicinity of monkeys and do not feed, pat, or play with monkeys or bats, even in popular tourist areas where you may be encouraged to interact with these animals.
  • Get vaccinated against rabies before you go, especially if you plan to visit rural areas or stay for a long time.

If you do get bitten or scratched by an animal

  • Apply first aid
  • Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water for at least 5 minutes.
  • Apply an antiseptic with anti-virus action such as povidone-iodine or alcohol (ethanol).
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, some people end up getting exposed, this year more than 200 West Australians needed treatment to prevent rabies.