Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How to survive a rabid monkey lick

One thing we need to do as we prepare for our upcoming world tour (nine weeks of Borneo, China and Europe) is to get caught up on our vaccinations.

A few weeks ago we visited the Travel Doctor here in Wellington and learned about all the scary things you can catch (like yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis) - or that can catch you (monkeys with rabies, mosquitos with malaria). Yick.

Due to our plans to visit Malaysian Borneo and China, they recommended the following:
  • Hepatitis A - a one-time injection plus a booster in 6-12 months; good for 30 years.
  • Hepatitis B - series of three injections over eight weeks; good for life.
  • Typhoid - one-time injection needed every three years.
  • Rabies - this one is optional. And here's what you have to do to survive a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal: wash the area with soap and water for 10 minutes without rubbing. Don't compress the wound as you want to let it bleed and flush the virus from the wound as much as possible. Even if you received a pre-exposure vaccine, you need a post-exposure treatment as soon as possible. Because Bali has so many dogs around, our nurse told us that Bali often runs out of the drug, so it's better to catch a flight to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur in search of immediate medical care. Not really comforting but good to know. Did you know that New Zealand is one of the few places on earth that doesn't have rabies? Let's keep it that way.
  • Malaria - Malaria's a bit different in that you take pills for protection instead of getting a shot. Two types were recommended to us. One is fairly cheap, may upset your stomach and you have to take it during and four weeks following your trip to a malaria area. The other is much more expensive, fewer side effects and you only have to take it for a week following your trip. In both cases do everything you can to avoid mosquito bites.
  • And your typical flu shot - which is designed to protect you from the flu anywhere in the world.
We have our malaria pills ready and have received all the required shots. In the end we opted out of the $200 rabies shot. What are the real chances of getting bitten or licked where we're going? We're hoping fairly low.

It makes me feel good to know we're able to protect ourselves with these vaccines. But after listening to all the horrible things that can happen to you on vacation to "paradise," I have to admit I feel a bit less day-dreamy and a bit more realistic about our upcoming travels.


Dave said...

With all the stuff monkeys infect us with you'd think they were trying to kill us off.

Phil said...

Oh God Jamie...my advice is to head straight back home, where everything's up to date! If you can get rabies from a monkey's lick, imagine what horrors you'd possibly catch from their bite.

No...if I were Jake and you I'd be heading straight back to KC. You can see all those "foreign" things anyway on Discovery channel, in the comfort of your apartment overlooking the Missouri River. Old Man Riv....sorry, wrong river!