Eight Common Outdoor Threats Everyone Should Be Aware Of and Prepared For

By Catarina Cowden
9/4/2014 10:57:29 AM

Stepping outside can be a dangerous move. The threats we find in the outdoors are terrifying, but for the outdoor enthusiast, that won't prevent us from getting out there and being a part of the natural environment. Anything could happen at any moment, even when you are stuck inside. But being prepared for the outdoors, especially when heading out for a long hike or adventure, is important to your safety and enjoyment.

We've recently discussed outdoor threats such as West Nile Virus, Summer Hypothermia, and Poison Ivy. This list of 8 outdoor threats explores other common threats that you might not know about, but really should.

We've all heard of Lyme Disease, and it's implications, but did you know that there are other tick borne illnesses that are out there, and are very commonly transmitted? In creating this list of outdoor threats, I chatted with Dr. Tom Trojian of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. As an avid outdoorsman, Dr. Trojian has a wealth of knowledge on the subject of Lyme Disease and other common outdoor threats associated with hikers and adventurists.

He discussed the research of Dr. Karl Ford, who found the Appalachian Trail to be highly concentrated of ticks, and estimated 5-9% of hikers contract Lyme Disease on the trail.

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Preventing these ticks can be a life-saving decision. Here are our tips on how to protect yourself from ticks.

There are other dangers to be aware on any hike, such as staying safe around bears or preventing snake bites. Here we focus on the common diseases, infections, and what to do if you show the symptoms.

Knowing what ticks, parasites, or health dangers lurk outside before your next hike, could just save your life.

Credit: Wikimedia

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a common trail disease transmitted by the bite of a deer tick. It is more common (95% of all cases) in eastern states such as Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. It is the 7th most common disease in the U.S. In 2012 there were 22,014 confirmed cases and 8,817 probable cases. Regular tick check is very important, and checking on your clothing is just as productive. The early stages of the disease, include an erythema migrans (EM) otherwise known as a "bull's-eye" rash. If this rash occurs you should seek medical attention immediately.

Credit: Wikimedia


Ehrlichiosis is a tickborne bacterial infection transmitted dominantly by the lone star tick. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and muscle aches. The highest incidence rates for the infection were found in Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin and 25% of all cases are reported in the month of June. It had a 1.1% fatality rate in 2010 with 2.5 cases per million people.

Credit: Wikimedia

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is another tickborne disease caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii. In the U.S. the potentially fatal illness is transmitted by the American dog tick, brown dog tick, and Rocky Mountain wood tick. Symptoms include headache, fever, abdominal pain, muscle pain and vomiting and can become quite severe or even fatal if not treated in the first few days of symptoms. It can be found in many areas of the states, but most densely in Arkansas, Delaware, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

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