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Spike in Aussies suffering animal bites overseas prompts warning



Health authorities have issued an urgent warning for travellers following a spike in the number of Aussies needing healthcare for animal bites and scratches suffered at popular south-east Asian holiday destinations.

The majority of the injured travellers came into contact with monkeys and dogs in locations such as Bali.

Director of NSW Health's One Health Keira Glasgow has warned animals can carry severe and life-threatening diseases.

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"Wild and feral animals overseas such as dogs, monkeys, cats and bats can carry a host of diseases, like rabies.

"Rabies can be transmitted by a bite or scratch from an infected animal, and while it is a rare disease, it is fatal."

NSW Health said that so far this year 145 residents had required medical treatment for animal bites or scratches obtained overseas.

Some animals can carry infections which can be passed to people through bites, scratches and animal fluids.

Glasgow said it is important to always use appropriate first aid if you are bitten or scratched.

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Most of the travellers came into contact with the animals in popular tourist areas of southeast Asia such as Bali.

"You should wash the wound well with lots of soap and water for at least fifteen minutes and use an antiseptic solution that has anti-viral properties, such as povidone-iodine, to help prevent infection," Glasgow said.

"You should also seek rapid medical advice regarding the prevention of rabies, tetanus, and other viral and bacterial infections.

"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 zero if it is an emergency."

Australians should avoid feeding, petting and playing with animals overseas, including pets and strays.

Travellers should also avoid carrying food that may attract animals and avoid eating raw and undercooked animal products.

It is important to wash hands well after contact with animals and seek urgent medical advice if you are bitten or scratched.

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