Insects carry disease and you need to check your whole body at least once a day for bugs.
More if you are in a known infected area.
In a time of disaster, you need to be thinking about typhus, plague, and other flea and tick borne nasties.
Survival is not a time to act ‘coy’ or to be shy. It’s better if you have a companion and check each other.
Ingestion of bad stuff is bad enough (worms, water parasites, bacteria, etc.) but dirt attracts common body feeders like Bed bugs, Body lice, Hair louse, crabs, and Scabies mites.
All guaranteed to make your life a little bit more like hell and open you up to secondary infections.
Here is a list of common insects and the infections they carry.
Preventive measures against infection include the following:
Wearing appropriate clothing.
REGULAR careful inspection of skin.
If ticks are found, FAST effective removal of the tick.
When removing theses things don’t mess about with Vaseline, crushing them, or even cigarettes.
Use a tick hook or a pair of tweezers.
Your aim is not to crush but to grip as near to the skin as possible, twisting the tick off complete with the “pincers” it is hanging on with.
Once off you can do the crush, burn, or hit it with the hammer bit.
Then disinfect the wound site.
Be cautious of red swellings or flu-like symptoms. GET MEDICAL HELP.
Firstly these are not the same as hair lice.
Dirty Unsanitary conditions, not washing yourself or your clothing, all adds to your chance of getting infected.
These nasty little things willing invade the “great unwashed” and unfortunately those who come in contact with them.
They’re blood suckers that lay their eggs in the seams of your clothing (or sleeping bags).
Eggs are white or yellowish like tiny grains of rice.
When hatched (1 week or so), they start to bite.
Full sized they are 2-4 mm long, greyish-white 6 legs.
A lice bite itches. Intensely.
That makes you scratch, that opens the skin, and secondary infections get in.
The most worrying one is Typhus but you opening the skin (especially with dirty hands) can let all sorts of other bugs in from Tetanus upwards.
How to prevent and deal with them ( A three pronged attack).
1. Keep away from the infected and dirty places.
On the road that’s hard. Isolation is best.
Communes or shared accommodation need to be avoided especially the worn out comfy settee.
That’s difficult when “no fixed abode” because like-minded people gather and it only takes one less careful than you are to transmit the bugs.
2. Keep clean.
Not only you the person but your clothing and bedding.
Bugs don’t like hot washes, hate tumble dryers, and fresh air / sunlight.
CDC reckon that leaving the clothes unwashed, but unworn for a full week, also results in the death of lice and eggs.
3. Keep them away.
I put down a 7 x 8 foot plastic sheet before setting up.
Although it sometimes added to condensation, it’s a formidable barrier to bugs together with a light dusting of bug powder.
I carry a simple shaker bottle of anti crawling insect powder and dust round where I put my bedding.
Probably not good for you breathing in 0.5% w/w Permethrin the whole night but it works for me.
Black death aka plague aka Y pestis springs to mind.
Rickettsia, Typhus, and Lyme Disease are also a worry.
Cleanliness is vital round where you are staying.
Again I use my plastic sheet and my crawling insect “sprinkle dust”.
It only takes a second for one of these little beauties to jump on you and rather like a mosquito, one bite is enough.
Cover up well preferably in non-woolly outside garb.
They don’t like things they cannot cling to.
If you have a dog, protect the dog too.
Two reasons, firstly to protect you, secondly the dog.
There is little you can do to isolate yourself from these bugs.
In the open, if you know an area is infected, STAY AWAY. That’s really the only advice I can offer.
If you are shooting rats, squirrel, or other warm-blooded mammals, the chances are they will be carrying fleas.
That’s why I always wear gloves when handling carcasses and only use tongs when dealing with “RAT” type things.
Don’t forget though, nothing to do with fleas, but animal urine carries LEPTOSPIROSIS.
This infection is commonly transmitted to humans by allowing water that has been contaminated by animal urine to come in contact with unhealed breaks in the skin, the eyes, or with the mucous membranes.
Head Lice (nits)
These things are so difficult to guard against.
If your child goes to school, they’re almost guaranteed to catch a dose.
It’s nothing to do with cleanliness either. The dirty and clean suffer the same.
Chemicals are becoming less effective.
Malathion works for now but don’t smoke when using it, as its flammable.
Permethrin products are now becoming less effective due to lice resistance.
However, more natural methods are proving to be popular as well as being very effective.
Essential oil shampoos work. There are plenty to choose from.
Personally when I’ve had a dose of nits, I nuke them with a OTC shampoo first then use essential oils to stop instant reinfection.
The time proven use of a nit comb picks up the hatched lice as it is combed through the hair.
This is best done on wet hair with a dose of conditioner.
Rubbing the scalp irritates the adult lice, making them move and the conditioner makes the hair too slippery for the lice to grip and move easily.
Kerosene treatment works but on a sensitive scalp it feels like acid! (Personal experience)
Go outside, wear old clothing, soak your hair in kerosene and read something for an hour.
Wash it out. Hasn’t failed me yet. DO NOT USE with babies or very young children.
( In case you don’t know, kerosene aka paraffin is flammable )
NEED I SAY “DON’T SMOKE”, NO NAKED LIGHTS, ETC.
The cycle of these nasty critters is somewhere round three weeks.
That’s a long time and loads of little eggs. It takes time to clear an infestation.
Just as you think it’s all gone, in come the kids and it all starts again.
Don’t think that braiding your hair keeps them out. It helps but isn’t 100% nit proof.
As for bedding and clothing?
Hot wash, hot dry as with all these creatures works.
It’s a rash, itches like mad so you’ll scratch and thus open the skin to secondary infections.
It’s contagious, and it’s caused by a tiny mite. 1/3mm across.
It burrows under the skin and the main reaction is from it’s “POO”.
It’s been associated with sex but is nothing to do with the act, just the close body contact.
Some agencies even call it an Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD). Daft that one!
Keep away from the infected. Don’t share clothing or bedding.
Wash all bedding in a hot wash and use a hot dryer.
It’s unlikely there are a lot of scabies mites on a body so nuking the whole house with an insecticide may be a little excessive.
A Permethrin cream rubbed all over the body, left soaking in all night, and washed off the next morning. Leave for a week and repeat.
There are some that say swimming in salt water kills the mites too.
They get into your bedding in all sorts of ways.
Mainly from others, pets, rucksacks that have brushed up against egg infested things, to being carried about by furry critters.
Infestations are rife throughout the world and they are known as the “hotel bug” with good reason.
Blood feeders they aren’t so friendly as body lice and can remain alive for months without food i.e. you.
Again the thing to worry about is secondary infections. Treat all bites with antibiotic cream.
Try not to scratch (which is virtually impossible).
You keeping clean isn’t going to help here, it’s your bedding you’ve got to watch out for.
Visually they are 4-5 mm, pale to brown.
Look like little cockroaches BUT here’s a rub, the cockroach loves to eat them.
They have a sweet musty smell and you’ll see blood coloured ‘waste’ on the sheets.
They don’t like hot washes so your bedding needs to be washer proof.
They also don’t like tumble dryers so again, your stuff needs to be shrink proof.
Vacuum your bedding. (Bit difficult in the field) is the traditional advice.
Turn out your bedding everyday and hang it to air. Sunlight they HATE.
Again, I used to dust the inverted bag with roach power whilst it aired and after a little shake, I would pack the bag away.
Usually associated with sexual activity, it is not the bottom line though.
Shared towels, clothing, beds or storage can all harbour them.
Hot bunking is notorious for cross infecting even the cleanest of people.
Good news for us dog owners, they don’t carry them.
TPTB say that you can’t catch them from toilet seats. (They obviously haven’t used public toilets lately)
Like all government advice, it’s based on a nice regularly cleaned toilet where nothing can cling to surfaces not some filthy loo in a public place. If there are dark little objects on or under the loo seat?
I’d think twice before “squatting your bot”.
They don’t carry disease but as always the itching makes you scratch and that lets in secondary infections.
They are 1-2 mm long, dark brown to black “crab like” in appearance.
They say that when they appear on the eye lashes, you’re pretty well covered in them.
Treat yourself first, put clean clothing on, and wash EVERYTHING.
Hot wash and a hot tumble dryer is best.
If you can’t launder stuff, seal it in a bag for at least two weeks.
(I have no proof this works though, just what I’ve read off the CDC site).
Lice killer lotions containing 1% permethrin or a mousse containing pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide can be used. The dead bodies will probably stick to your hair so you’ll need a nit comb to brush them out.
For the eyebrows / eye lashes, you should use medical grade Vaseline mixed permethrin.
Mosquitoes & Malaria. Note malaria is growing more resistant to the common treatments.
One bite is all it can take. Keep clear of stagnant water, ditches, or anywhere that standing water gathers.
You have five defences.
1. Use the strongest DEET based insect repellent you can find
2. Keep covered up
3. Rest under a mosquito net.
4. Use chemical smoke to deter them, like “Tiger Coils” which are impregnated with Metofluthrin.
5. Use light discipline at night. Lights attract bugs!