Diseases can be spread by a variety of creatures, and after a disaster lack of proper hygiene and chemical repellents will exacerbate the situation. Let’s look at the 5 most deadly disease spreaders so that you’ll be prepared to handle them.
#1: The Mosquito
This little guy is a misery even setting aside diseases, but the effect of a mosquito bite can be far worse than a mere itchy redness. Mosquitos are one of the most prolific and difficult to repel vectors for disease, and depending on the area they live in have spread malaria, West Nile virus, Yellow Fever, and Dengue Fever. What’s worse, since they often attack in swarms it can be very difficult to keep them from infecting anyone who is outside for even a few minutes if you live near large pools of stagnant water. Aside from repelling sprays, your best bet is to wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants, perhaps with a hood and insect-proof face shield if they’re really persistent. If you sleep outside, a mosquito net may be needed to ensure that you aren’t eaten alive while you sleep. Sweet dreams!
#2: Mice and Rats
These critters will explode in population during most disasters as their habitat will suddenly expand along with their food supply. Unfortunately, they are also particularly deadly to preppers whose food isn’t locked up in rodent-proof containers. All of those foods on shelves or in bins may be contaminated by mouse nibbles on the corners or by droppings in the food ruining the entire bag or box. This means that only a few rats or mice can ruin hundreds of pounds of rice, stocks of baking powder/soda, and leave you with hantavirus-covered feces as a parting gift. We’ve discussed dealing with these pests in detail here.
Although these insects are needed in order to clean up refuse, their diet and preferred living quarters make them common vectors for many diseases, fungi and even allergens. What’s worse, they can be nigh impossible to eradicate if there is a source of food nearby, such as an abandoned house or simply piles of corpses/garbage lying about. As such, you should make every effort to secure your own food against them (thankfully they cannot chew through like mice and rats so an airtight container should do the trick) and then seal up every hole you can in an effort to stem the tide. Killing them, aside from the use of bug bombs or other large-scale massacre devices, is largely pointless since they reproduce horribly rapidly. For those with chickens in their backyard, you can use them as an effective cleanup crew, as their voracious appetites will rapidly diminish local populations.
Depending on the ticks in your local area, you may be subject to Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, STRI, Powassan disease, or the infamous Lyme disease among others. These blood suckers attach to dogs, people, and are found just about anywhere there is vegetation. Chickens are a great population reducer once more, but beyond that you just need to carefully check your body and clothing after walking or working outdoors in order to catch them before they bite. Be aware especially of ticks on dogs and other pets, as ticks can use dogs as places to lay eggs and hatch young that can then brush off on you and your family. I would recommend keeping some anti-tick cream on hand for potential disasters if you have pets as a result.
Although not commonly found on humans in our modern world, they may become more prolific in the unhygienic world of a long-term disaster. Spreaders of many blood-borne diseases including the infamous bubonic plague, fleas often jump to people from animals including rats, cats, and pigs. Ensuring a proper anti-flea regimen in pets and livestock will help keep the local population down, and eliminating feral animals and mice after an event will keep the number of non-protected carriers to a minimum.
These are some nasty little buggers after a disaster when you’re busy dealing with bigger and more pressing problems. Do you have any tips for eliminating them or minimizing the spread of disease? Let us know in the comments below!