Tourist bitten by monkey in Africa told not to worry but alertly did

Tourist bitten by monkey in Africa told not to worry but alertly did


Tourist bitten by monkey in Africa told not to worry but alertly did

While touring Victoria Falls in Africa last month, Lisa Leiden and her husband were observing some wild monkeys frolicking about when one of them suddenly bounded toward Leiden, latched onto her leg and bit her through jeans, drawing blood.

Officials from the park told her it was not a risk, according to the University of Reno School of Medicine. Leiden cleaned the wound with an antiseptic wash from the park’s first aid kit. Later, she was “100 percent” assured by their hotel concierge that she would never have a problem from the monkey bite.

Unconvinced, Leiden contacted her long-time doctor back home in Reno, Nevada—more than 10,000 miles away. She was glad she did.

Dr. Steven Zell, a travel medicine expert and professor at UNR School of Medicine, agreed with Leiden’s assessment that there was reason to be concerned about being infected with rabies.

Animals that attack without provocation, such as this one, are more likely to be infected with a virus that can cause rabies, Zell told UNR School of Medicine. If left untreated, rabies are fatal.

“I contacted one of my peers from the International Society of Travel Medicine and found an excellent clinic for her in Johannesburg, South Africa.” Zell told KTVN in Reno. “They had in stock, rabies immune globulin, which is really difficult to get.”

The Leidens flew to Johannesburg and Lisa began treatments within three days of the bite, well within the up-to-a-week timeframe to get proper treatment, which can cost more than $3,000.

“We had to get money by going to the head of the hotel and giving him our debit card,” Leiden explained to the UNR School of Medicine. “He sent a driver across the border to Zambia to get money out from a Zambian ATM machine. We then took a cab to the pharmacy in this very small town.”

Also on BNQT: Surfer rides wave behind ferry for four miles.

The treatment possibly saved Leiden’s life.

“If Lisa would have taken the advice from the park and her hotel, she may have become very ill and may have died,” Zell told UNR School of Medicine. “Wild animal bites, especially rabies bites, are all serious. You don’t want to take ‘You’ll be fine’ for an answer. Lisa didn’t and she is better for it.”

Zell offered these recommendations for preparing for international travel:

Make a phone call to the consulate of the country you’re planning to visit to ensure no vaccines are required at customs.

Make an appointment to see a good travel clinician

Get vaccinations from your travel clinician at least six weeks before departing.

Prepare an adequate first aid kit.

Pre-identify a source you can go to for help in a third world country. The ISTM global directory lists experts in foreign countries who specialize in travel medicine.

Photo of monkey courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Photo of monkey-bite victim Lisa Leiden (left) with Dr. Steven Zell (middle) and Dr. Khazi Nayeemuddin courtesy of Brin Reynolds/UNR Med.

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