Cairns health authorities are warning tourists to take monkey sanctuaries off their itinerary after a rabies-based public health warning was issued in far-north Queensland.
In July, Tropical Public Health recorded 11 reports of bat and monkey bites. Since then, the number of cases of rabies and Australian Bat Lyssavirus has more than doubled to 24.
Unit director Dr Gair said the increase in cases stems from people returning home from holidays in South East Asia.
“Holiday-goers need to be aware of any health risks that may be prevalent in their country of destination,” Dr Gair said.
“Rabies and Australian Bat Lyssavirus infections are transmitted by scratches and bites, and in those who develop the disease, it is almost always fatal.”
Dr Gair said the message couldn’t be simpler.
“Those traveling for extended periods to countries where there is rabies, or who may be exposed to the risk of rabies, should consider vaccinations before leaving Australia.”
Dr Helen Scott-Orr from the University of Sydney recently worked in Indonesia to regulate disease control.
Dr Scott-Orr said it ultimately comes down to Australia’s border security.
“Health authorities put out warnings periodically to stay away from bats but people are not going to be carriers of rabies. It’s carried by dogs or Lyssavirus found in bats, so it’s all about people not breaching quarantine and we have very strict quarantine regulations in Australia to prevent that from happening,” Dr Scott Orr said.