Vaccines You Should Have If You Plan On Hiking And Backpacking
Hiking long distances and staying overnight in tents or shelters can be a really wonderful experience. Of course, there are some risks involved with venturing off into the wilderness for long periods. One of those risks is the risk of illness. Thankfully, there are some immunizations you can have in order to protect yourself from some key pathogens you might encounter.
Tetanus is a bacterial infection caused by the pathogen Clostridium tetani. This pathogen lives in the soil, and you can become infected if you get a wound and the bacteria get inside that wound. Out in the wilderness, where you may not be able to get cuts and puncture wounds treated as quickly, tetanus is more of a threat. Most people are vaccinated for tetanus regularly, but if you're about to embark on a long backpacking trip, it's a good idea to check with your doctor and see whether you're due for a booster.
Rabies is a deadly viral disease that is carried and spread by mammals. You can contract the disease if you are bitten or scratched by an animal that is carrying it. Commonly infected mammals include skunks, raccoons, and foxes. Everyone who becomes infected with rabies and does not get prompt care before symptoms develop dies — full stop. It's therefore wise to talk to your doctor about being vaccinated for rabies before you head off on a long backpacking trip. In most cases, you'll need a series of vaccines in order to gain full immunity.
Cholera used to be a really common illness, but sanitary sewage and wastewater symptoms have mostly eliminated it as a threat in settled areas. However, it can be spread by feces, and in the forest, there is a chance you could come into contact with water that has been in contact with contaminated feces. So, it's a good idea to be vaccinated for cholera. There is actually an oral cholera vaccine available, which makes this one easy!
Yellow fever is an infection spread by mosquitoes. It causes severe and sudden fever, and it can be deadly. Not all hikers need this vaccine, but if you'll be backpacking in an area where Yellow Fever exists, it is highly recommended. If you were to become ill with Yellow Fever while out in the woods, you may not be able to make it to civilization for treatment by the time your symptoms became severe.
If you're planning to embark on a backpacking adventure, make sure you see a doctor and talk to them about these vaccines first.