Much of Scouting occurs in the out of doors where we are the visitors and the animals, insects, and other creatures are at home. The following guidance will help protect us from infections and other risks that we can encounter and that may lead to serious illness.
Know what risks are possible. Mosquitos, ticks, mammals, and other creatures can spread disease to people. The CDC has detailed information on animal and insect/arachnid risks and what you can do to help prevent them.
Know the area you will be visiting. Is it wooded? Near a swamp? Known to have a high population of deer, raccoons, or bats? Has it been populated with mice and rats that may have left behind a virus or bacteria in fleas or feces? Each environment has its own potential concerns. Learn about an area before you leave for a campout or trek. Landowners, rangers, and other sources can be used to learn of risks before arrival. Reminding youth to be mindful of warning signs posted in hazardous areas is an important aspect of a safety minute on arrival.
Know that many animals and insects spread diseases that may not produce immediate symptoms. Parents and guardians should be aware of possible exposures before and after an event when youth are at risk. Encourage and teach avoidance of all wild animals. This can also mean domesticated animals that are not familiar.
Know the area you will be visiting. Is it swampy or filled with dense underbrush? For example, avoid camping around lowlands during the wet season. Because it may not be possible to change a reserved site at a campground or other environment, preparation and prevention are critical.
Bring repellents and netting, and set good policy around checking for ticks and bites. Make sure repellents are used and reapplied.
Avoid places where rodents have been living. If cleaning an area or enclosure (cabin, hut, etc.), be prepared by making sure qualified personnel and proper personal protective equipment are used.
- CDC mosquito prevention information: www.cdc.gov/features/stopmosquitoes/index.html
- CDC tick and mosquito protection: www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/about/prevent-bites.html
- CDC tick information: www.cdc.gov/ticks/index.html
- CDC wildlife information: www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets/wildlife.html
- CDC rodent information: www.cdc.gov/rodents/index.html
- CDC rabies information: www.cdc.gov/rabies/