Tourist warning after dozens of harmful bites from ‘wild and feral’ animals carrying diseases

Hundreds of travellers have needed to seek treatment after returning from overseas this year alone.

More than a dozen NSW residents each month are seeking treatment for bites and scratches from animals sustained while travelling overseas.

The state’s health department has issued a warning to travellers about the need to be cautious around foreign animals after 145 patients were treated so far in 2023.

Travellers sought treatment after being in contact with animals in popular tourist areas in southeast Asia, with the majority of incidents involving monkeys and dogs.

NSW Health One Health branch director Keira Glasgow said many animals carried severe and life-threatening diseases.

She said while wild animals carried more infections, people should also avoid contact with stray dogs and cats.

“Some animals carry infections which can be passed to people through bites, scratches or animal fluids and make people very ill,” Glasgow said.

“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.”

The NSW Health Department has issued a warning to travellers about being around foreign animals. Credit: EPA

Tourists are being urged to avoid areas where animals can climb on, bite or scratch them and warned not to feed, play with or try to touch wild or stray animals.

People should also seek urgent medical advice if they are bitten or scratched in order to prevent rabies, tetanus and other bacterial infections.

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