Monkey scratch is a skin injury caused by monkey. It is second most common injury caused by domestic animals in India and several other countries in the world. Often animals such as monkeys attack when they feel threatened or they are sick. They also attack humans to protect their young ones. This attack can be in the form of a serious bite or a superficial scratch on the skin. If you are travelling to places which have dense monkey population, be careful to avoid interacting with them. Bites and scratches from mammals can have serious consequence on health.
Bite or a scratch from a monkey must not be neglected. Even a minor scratch can lead to serious wound infection. It can also result in more serious conditions such as rabies and herpes B infection. Monkey bite and scratches is most common risk factor for travelers in places having large number of monkeys. Besides travelers, people occupied in biomedical research work are also vulnerable to monkey scratch and bites.
Two of the most common dreaded problems associated with monkey scratch or bite is possibility of developing rabies and herpes B infection. Rabies can be prevented by prompt administration of anti rabies vaccine after the exposure. Even if the scratch has not made a cut into the skin or there is no bleeding from the wound, person is advised to take anti rabies vaccine. Here are few steps that must be followed after the scratch on the skin.
- Wash the wound with soap and water.
- If available use betadine or any other virucidal cleaning agent which contains povidine or iodine or any chlorhexidine solution to clean the wound. The affected is thoroughly cleaned for 15 minutes and then washed with water.
- Avoid covering the area if it is small without deep wound.
- Administer injection Tetanus toxoid
- Administration of Anti rabies vaccine is very important. Most common of the vaccine available is purified chick embryo cell vaccine. The doctor administers the intramuscular injection in deltoid area. The dose is 1 ml intramuscular in deltoid region of the upper arm. It is given on certain specific dates as 0, 3, 7, 14 and 28 days from the date of scratch or a bite.
- Vaccination is preferably administered soon after the scratch or within 24 hours of exposure. If it is late, still you must go and take the injection from your doctor, because taking treatment is better than to be at risk. Since rabies is fatal disease.
Herpes B virus infection is another risk from monkey bite or a scratch. The virus is related with herpes simplex family. The viral disease is mainly spread from macaque monkeys. These monkeys are host for the virus. Herpes B virus in monkeys does not produce significant symptoms, but in humans it can cause severe brain damage from encephalitis if not treated. Fortunately herpes B infection in humans is extremely rare. Normally where skin remains intact after the scratch, treatment is not recommended by doctor. But if the skin is lacerated and torn with bleeding and contaminated with saliva or body fluid of macaque monkey, then treatment is necessary. Treatment consists of antiviral therapy. There is no vaccine yet invented for herpes B.