How To Handle Outdoor Parasites

Hiking, swimming, and traveling are all the best parts of summer.

However, all of these common summer activities can expose you to parasites. Parasites are small organisms that live off of other organisms. Being exposed can be dangerous or even life-threatening. As we begin to enjoy the warmth that comes with summer and we find ourselves outdoors more, we encounter more parasites that can have a negative effect on us. Hiking through the woods, drinking from streams, swimming in public pools, or barbecuing all make it much easier for a parasite to come aboard our bodies.  

Awareness is your best line of defense when it comes to keeping your family healthy. There are numerous different types of parasites that can impact you in different ways. 

One of the most common parasites is giardia because it can be in fresh water sources, streams, rivers, lakes, and it has wild animal hosts like raccoons. If their stool gets into the water, it’s contaminated. Deer can also carry this parasite. It attaches to the intestinal wall and can make a person very sick. Always boil water when camping or hiking or be sure to take a water bottle with a filter if drinking from the streams. 

Ticks are another dangerous parasite to be aware of when exploring the outdoors. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease and many other diseases are carried by ticks and transmitted when they attach. Your best defense against ticks is wearing insect repellant with at least 20-30% DEET. It also repels mosquitos, who are known to carry a slew of other diseases. Also, you should always check your children’s bodies and make them shower quickly when you get back indoors. Removing a tick within 24 hours reduces the likelihood of disease transmission. 

Always stay aware. If you travel, research the dangers in the places that you are going to. Many third world countries have parasites that have not been introduced to the US, so it is important to know the proper way to take care of anything that might happen. 

Although parasites can be scary, if you are aware and alert, following correct procedures, your family should have very little to worry about. Enjoy the outdoors with peace of mind as you follow the tips above.