Camping Health and Safety Tips
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a very helpful
webpage with camping health
and safety tips. There is information on how to avoid ticks and mosquitos (which can transmit a variety
of diseases), how to prevent water-related illnesses and injuries, how to avoid wild animals that may
carry rabies, hantavirus or other diseases, how to follow food safety practices, and more. Be sure to
read the Packing Checklist for campers.
There is also an interactive page for kids called
Questions and Answers about Rabies, Bats, and Summer Camps.
Drinking Water for Campers
One of the fun things about camping is being near beautiful lakes, streams, and rivers. Although the water may look pure,
it can still be contaminated. The water may look and smell fine, but it may still contain harmful viruses, parasites,
bacteria, and other contaminants. Campers and hikers who drink untreated water directly from lakes and streams are at
increased risk of becoming ill with Giardia, Shigella, Cryptosporidium, and other waterborne diseases. To learn about
how to protect yourself against these diseases, visit the CDCís
Drinking Water Ė Camping, Hiking, Travel webpage. There
are a number of helpful links on water disinfection for travelers, water filters, water treatment methods, and emergency
disinfection of drinking water.
Coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever)
Did you know that the disease coccidioidomycosis is endemic (native and common) in the southwestern
United States, including southern California? Coccidioidomycosis, also known as Valley Fever, is a
lung disease that results from infection with Coccidioides, a fungus which lives in dirt. Symptoms
include fever, cough, headache, rash, muscle aches, or joint pain. In severe cases, patients develop
pneumonia or meningitis, sometimes resulting in death.
Anyone can get sick with Valley Fever. People become infected with this disease by inhaling fungal
spores which become airborne when dust is stirred up. People exposed to the dust breathe in the
microscopic spores without even realizing it. It is difficult to prevent Valley Fever, but try to
limit your exposure to dusty areas if at all possible.
To learn more about this disease,
click here to read our fact sheet.
If you operate an organized camp that closes after the summer season, itís important to
remember to winterize your camp so that itís in good working order when you return next summer.
Make sure to winterize camp buildings against vector infestations. Rats and squirrels seek
warmer climates for building nests. Rodents work at night to gather food and often gnaw on
electrical wires, potentially causing fires. Here are some tips to prevent vector infestations
while your camp is closed:
If your camp has a swimming pool, remember to winterize it before leaving for the season.
- Seal all entryways, cracks, and holes in siding, doors, window screens, and areas around pipes
- Practice good sanitation by cleaning up crumbs and spills
- Store dry food in sealed containers
- Clean under counter-top appliances and large kitchen appliances
If you have any questions or comments, please contact Amanda Gaspard, Health Education Specialist,
at 800-442-2283 or Amanda.Gaspard@dph.sbcounty.gov.