Bitten by a monkey in Cambodia: the importance of vaccinations

Ollie learned the hard way about the importance of vaccinations when he was bitten by a monkey whilst travelling in Cambodia.

If you’re travelling to an area where there is a risk of rabies, you should definitely consider getting the rabies jab. The rabies vaccination is an optional jab for travellers, and while most travellers are fine without it, it’s probably not worth the risk. If you get bitten or licked on a cut or a scratch by an animal that is infected, it can be fatal.

Ollie’s story

I didn’t have the rabies vaccination which I turned out to regret. I was travelling on the well trodden route up the East Coast of Australia, followed by South East Asia. I made my way up the coast of Vietnam; I then travelled to Laos, Thailand and then Cambodia. I was visiting the Angkor Wat Temple, which is a big tourist destination in Cambodia when I was attacked by a monkey.

importance vaccinations

The monkeys were playing in the trees and I went over to take a photograph. I was crouching down to get the shot and a female monkey ran over, jumped on my back and bit me hard. I went back to the hostel and washed the blood off but because it started bleeding again I went to hospital to get it checked out and then realised I was at risk of rabies.

The first problem was that it was really difficult to find a hospital and then it was hard for them to get hold of the injection. They can also charge you as much as they like, and because you need it so much you simply have to pay. I had four jabs and then two when I got home. The first was about £45, the second was about £20, the third £20 and the fourth was £15. The fifth and sixth were free post-exposure injections in the UK. I don’t have any symptoms from the bite or suffer from adverse effects from the jab but I did waste a lot of time and money.

I’d recommend that you get the rabies injection before you go just as a precaution. Also I’d say to be cautious around monkeys!

Note: If you have had the rabies jab and you get bitten you should still seek immediate medical attention. To make an informed decision and read more about the importance of vaccinations, read our in-depth vaccination advice.

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