Thursday, December 27, 2012

Australian travellers to Bali urged to take care

The Australian Medical Association has issued a warning to travellers and party goers about one of Australia's top holiday destinations, Bali.

The Association says it's seeing an increasing number of illnesses and injuries in those returning from the Indonesian island.

The Association is calling on visitors to avoid cocktails that might be spiked with methanol-- and it's advising them not to get a tattoo.

Correspondent: David Weber
Speaker: Doctor Michael Gannon, Vice-President, Australian Medical Association, Western Australia

GANNON: Look, I think that people in, in Western Australia in many ways regard Bali as an extension of their state and I guess because they see it as such a close place to go, such an easy place to get, they don't think that you are actually travelling to an international country where the rules aren't the same.

People seem to make decisions that might appear a bit strange in terms of not taking the precautions that you might take. So for example there are situations where people will decide to get a tattoo done when they're in Bali. There are not the same legal protections there to reduce the risk of an infection being obtained from having a tattoo.

WEBER: This comes a year after the publicity about someone who had contracted HIV from a tatooist's needle.

GANNON: Contracting a virus as serious as HIV or hepatitis C can be a life changing or a lethal mistake for someone to make. There's a lot of skin disease from henna type tattooes and things like that. If you get a blood-borne infection from a dirty needle giving you something like HIV, that can change the rest of your life.

WEBER: There's been a lot of recent publicity about cocktails spiked with methanol, indeed reports of serious illness and even death. Is it safe to assume that the problem is more widespread than we know?

GANNON: Look, it's difficult to know. Certainly there would be great dangers in having a drink spiked with methanoyl, that can cause blindness after even a relatively small dosage. It is the kind of thing that has been out of methylated spirits for example in Australia for some time and we would have great concerns if we thought that was common place. Again its not the same standard as we would expect in Australia in terms of there being laws and when you purchase alcoholic beverage in a hotel in Australia you are getting what they say you are getting.

WEBBER: GPs are seeing an increasing number of people coming back from Bali with illnesses. Dr Gannon

GANNON: Well, probably the most common presentation to a GP when someone returns to Bali would be gastroenteritis or some form of food poisoning but when we're talking more serious infections like salmonella, a serious infection like salmonella, there's a requirement for the doctor in Australia to report the infection. It is a notifiable infection so the Health Department needs to track those cases.

Polio has been virtually eradicated in countries like Australia but there are parts of Indonesia, not so much part of Bali, where there are pockets of polio. There are certain areas of the Indonesian archipelago where you might still be at high risk of catching rabies and there is a specific vaccine for that. People travelling to Bali should be very careful about being around wild animals, think twice before going to the monkey forest because there are reports of people catching rabies in that context. Radio Australia

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