Exclusive: A spearing in the gut by an antelope, rabies infected dog bites and injuries from monkey bites are among the 18,000 health crises that afflicted Aussies travelling overseas last year.
More than 4000 tourists ended up in hospital and over 155 had to be evacuated back to Australia by air ambulance.
The most expensive holiday health event cost $1.5 million.
Allianz insurance has revealed one of the more sensational injuries covered by its travel insurance business involved a 58-year-old man who had his bladder and colon punctured by an antelope in Zimbabwe.
He was walking through a camp in the African country when he startled a Nyala Antelope.
It thrashed its head at him, penetrating his lower abdomen and he had to be evacuated to South Africa where he was hospitalised for 10 days.
Allianz’s nursing team arranged flights and accommodation for the patient and his wife as he recovered, before sending him home to Australia on a business class flight, the event cost $45,000.
The insurer says that Indonesia and Thailand are the most common destinations requiring urgent medical assistance.
The insurer is one of the only Australian insurance companies to offer an in-house repatriation service via a team of 26 highly skilled nurses through its Allianz Global Assistance Medical Assistance Team.
Repatriation nurse Georgie Mewing says caring for a patient on an aircraft is high stress because when the human body is taken to high altitudes it can affect oxygen supply and other gases in the body.
Some of the patients helped by the service have been victims of terror attacks in Europe, skiing and snowboard injuries where the bones protrude out from the skin are common, she said.
“At Tour de France time there is always a rise in cycling accidents from people following the route,” she said.
Other patients need help after developing the bends while scuba diving and some develop severe altitude sickness from mountain climbing where their brain swells and their lungs stop working.
Wagga Wagga school student Benazir Ali who was celebrating the end of her five-year battle with leukaemia had to cut her family holiday in the US short last year when she was evacuated home with osteomyelitis.
Beni collapsed after arriving in Las Vegas, her legs weren’t working and she needed emergency surgery to flush fluid form her hip joint.
Each day US hospital staff demanded the family produce their credit card and charged them $12,000 a day for Beni’s care before Allianz stepped in taking over the bills.
An Allianz nurse accompanied Beni on the flight home and during a two-hour stop over in Fiji the 12-year-old suffered an anaphylactic reaction to the IV antibiotics she was receiving and went limp, she was rushed to hospital in Fiji before eventually making it back to Sydney Children’s Hospital.
Beni’s greatest fear about falling ill was she would miss out on meeting her hero electronic music producer and DJ Marshmelo in his Los Angeles studio as arranged for her birthday.
The creator of the hit song Happier flew to Las Vegas to meet her in the hospital.
“It was really crazy, he bought me a birthday cake like a replica of his helmet,” she said.
“He’s a really nice guy, he doesn’t let the fame get to his head,” she said.