Exotic destinations and unique experiences beckon you like a magnet. Exploring the wilderness of the Australian Outback, surviving an African Safari, scaling Mount Everest, and camping in the wilderness of a tropical forest in Central America or the Far East – are among those experiences adventurers and seasoned travellers want to tick away in their personal bucket list.
The news that a “Backpacker had 3-inch-long leech living up her nose” is making headlines, it is sparking mixed opinions and perceptions. It even ignited Telegraph Travel – Travel News to come up with “10 horrible critters that will ruin your holiday.”
… this tiny fish is to humans … is allegedly capable of swimming up the urethra of either a man or woman and lodging itself inside the genitals, with accounts of such attacks stretching back to 1829… in 1997 when one supposedly leapt into the urethra of a man as he relieved himself in a Brazilian river…
… Found in the rainforests of Latin America, it is also called the “24-hour ant”, a reference to the length of time you will suffer if you’re nibbled by one … It is the most painful sting in the world, according to the Schmidt sting pain index… “waves of burning, throbbing, all-consuming pain that continue unabated for up to a day”. Avoid.
Japanese Giant Hornet
… its aggressive nature and deadly venom – it kills more people in Japan (30-40 people a year) than any other animal… it prefers to target bees, with a group of 20 or so hornets capable of wiping out a hive of 30,000 in just a couple of hours.
… Bilharzia worms are parasitic larvae that live in freshwater snails … used to get under the skin of people. Literally. They then grow into worms…. To avoid Bilharzia …it’s best to avoid swimming in lakes in Africa or the Nile… the infection, also known as schistosomiasis: …
… the skin maggot fly, this parasite is found in East and Central Africa and has an unfortunate habit of laying its eggs in clothes that have been hung out to dry; larvae that then brush against human skin can burrow into the body where they grow into maggots and feed on tissue. Infected individuals develop what is called myiasis …
The list also includes: Leishmaniasis, tick, screw-worm, kissing bugs, and Indian house cricket.
This is a flesh-devouring parasite coming from the bite of a sandfly. Locals in the Amazon use hot herbs to drive away the parasite. Tick can cause Lyme disease. Screw-worms are larvae of a type of fly that feed off human tissues. Kissing bugs do not only suck human blood, in chronic cases, they can embed themselves in the heart and digestive tissues that may lead to sudden years after years of harboring the parasite. The Indian house cricket were once thought to be harmless to humans until doctors extracted a 3-inch cricket from the inner ear f a man from India.
If truth be told, like a rose that come with thorns, all these beautiful destinations are not without risks. Just like snakes, another dreaded animal. “The chances of snakebite are, of course, very slim,” said correspondent Lizzie Porter in the article “How to survive a snake bite” posted in Telegraph – Activity and Adventure. The article stressed some of the things you must and must not do when the worst happens…
… From sub-Saharan Africa, to rural Indonesia and much of Australia, it is impossible to get away from the fact that many adventurous places are also home to some very deadly snakes…
If the worst happens…
… Professor David Lalloo, of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, explains that the most important steps are immobilising the limb and seeking medical attention as soon as possible. Keeping the limb still – preferably using a splint – will prevent the spread of venom into the circulatory system. Medical care must be sought so that the bite victim can receive anti-venom…
… What you should not do is just as important as what you should. These include any of the “cowboy” approaches such as cutting the wound… “So-called snake bite kits” that contain devices to suck the venom out, are to be avoided, he says, “because they just do more damage.”
… snakes are not generally aggressive and will tend only to attack when they feel threatened… “The most likely scenario is not that you are bitten by a snake you see, but by a snake you don’t see, often in long grass or hiding in a wood pile or a hollow.”
“And if you move away from them, and don’t irritate them further, then they won’t chase you…”
Note that in snake territory it is a bad idea to wander around at night unless necessary: for example, going to an outside toilet in bare feet or in flip flops.
Backpacking, exploring, diving and scaling heights are just a few of those exotic dreams you hope to achieve in your lifetime. At one time or another, you’ll have brushes with any of these dangers. You can’t veer away from them; they are as part of the intricate balance in the ecosystem you so love. Their presence is a living proof that you are going somewhere nature is still supporting a biologically diverse ecosystem.
Yet, you must not be remiss in ignoring those risks. What you need to do is to be ready for them. Know what you are up against by doing research to be in a position to protect yourself.