Monkey bites: Everything you should know

Monkey bites account for 2–21% of animal bite injuries. In India for example, two studies found monkeys to be second to dogs as the most common source of animal bite injuries.

photo of monkeys
Photo by Rajesh Balouria on

Who is most at risk?

Monkey bites are an important risk among travellers, being the second most common animal bite risk to travellers after dog bites.


Treatment depends on the health status of the patient, the location of the bite and whether or not there is a suspicion of rabies in the monkey. The main principles of care include:

  • early medical management including wound cleansing;
  • prophylactic antibiotics to decrease infection risk;
  • rabies post-exposure treatment depending on the animal vaccination status;
  • administration of tetanus vaccine if the person has not been adequately vaccinated.

Prevention of monkey bites and their serious health consequences

Communities and travellers should be informed about risks of monkey bites and prevention techniques.

Health-care providers should be educated on the appropriate management of these injuries. Health authorities and policy-makers should ensure rabies control within monkey populations, and appropriate supplies of post-exposure rabies treatment and antibiotic prophylaxis for bitten people. They should also support research initiatives directed at providing more information on the burden of monkey bites.