Large carnivores are often portrayed as dangerous to humans. Large beasts. Ferocious predators, like bears, wolves, and large cats. The inspiration of animated hunting stories and science fiction movies.
But the most dangerous animals are the little critters. Years ago I conducted research as wildlife research biologist for the federal government. I once became sick and spent weeks in the hospital. My symptoms were similar to those of a number of other diseases, and diagnosis initially stumped the doctor. I had been in the woods daily and had been targeted by lots of ticks. Extensive tests determined that I had contacted tularemia, called rabbit fever. Once the correct diagnosis was determined, antibiotic took care of the bacteria. Other than tularemia, ticks also carry other nasty stuff, such as Lyme disease, Colorado tick fever, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and others. Several of these have similar symptoms. Symptoms can include a red circular swelling around the tick bite, fever, general malaise, achy joints, and swollen lymph nodes.
Some precautions can help outdoorsmen diminish the chances of tick born diseases. Treating clothing with a high powered pesticide before going afield can help. As well as spraying boots and lower pants with a repellant. Ticks inhabit grassy areas, shrubs, and down logs. Minimize contact with tick habitat. Wear high white socks and pull them up outside your pants. You can see the parasites heading for a warm blood meal.
It takes some time for ticks to transmit diseases. So getting them off quick is paramount. Be sure to check yourself as soon as you're out of the woods. Usually there is a tingling sensation at a tick bite. Remove any located ticks. Shower as soon as you get home. If you develop any symptoms of tick born disease see a physician, and be sure to tell him/her you have been bitten by ticks.
Mosquitoes are a major of vector of diseases worldwide. They can transmit malaria, dengue, yellow fever, several varieties of encephalitis, as well as harbor West Nile virus. This is not just theoretical; several people in this vicinity have contacted the virus with serious effects. The virus can have little effects, or it can be lethal to humans.
Mosquitos are most active dawn and dusk. They inhabit moist, vegetated habitat, and don't take wind well. Spray up before going afield or fuel up your thermacell. Mosquitos lay their eggs in standing water so drain any around your house.
Some spiders, such as the black widow and brown recluse, can inflict painful bites and cause loss of flesh, sometimes with lasting effects. The male-consuming female black widow is shiny black with a bright red hour-glass pattern on her belly. I see them in shady protected places, such as wood piles, under culverts, dog houses, and water meter holes. The brown recluse has a fiddle pattern on its' back.
Plants can be noxious also. Most of you are familiar with poison ivy and the identifying jingle — leaflets of three let it be. It grows as a vine or erect stem on a wide variety of sites. It won't be so obvious in the winter on bucked up fire wood.
Don't breathe the fumes from fire wood with poison ivy vines at your camp fire next fall.
Be safe as best you can. Try to avoid contact with things that could cause harm. Some precaution can pay big dividends as more fun afield.
Dr. James G. Dickson-Award winning -author, researcher, wildlife biologist, and professor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org