Horrible Diseases You Can Get in North American Caves

Horrible Diseases You Can Get in North American Caves

From infectious bats to cave fever, you could encounter more than the dark down there.

The soccer team in Thailand has been miraculously rescued. Stuck in a vast underground cave network in the province of Chiang Rai along with their coach, the twelve boys aged 11 and over spent weeks waiting out suffocating flood waters, hoping that someone would come find them.

And as the world watched, thankfully, someone did. The boys are now recovering and doing well. The whole ordeal seems surreal and so fantastical that, no doubt, a movie about the tale is already in the works.

So, what dangers besides rising flood waters, can you encounter in a cave? It depends on your area of the globe, but no matter where you are, the chance of contracting some wild illness under ground exists.

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In North America, you’re most likely to risk developing ‘cave fever’, something called histoplasmosis and rabies.

You can contract cave fever from ticks living in dark, moist places. If you catch it, you normally start out suffering from a fever, chills, a headache, sore joints and stomach pain. A tricky illness, you’ll find you may start to feel better, but then relapse many times. Get yourself to a doctor-you’ll need a complicated cocktail of medications to get better.

For its part, histplasmosis is something that targets your lungs. It comes from breathing in spores found in the droppings of infected bats and birds. You may feel like you have tuberculosis while suffering through it, but most people get better within 10 days. It can be fatal, however,  again, see your doctor!

And then there’s our good friend, rabies. You can get it by inhaling the virus, but this is very rare. If you scrape yourself while underground, you can also contract rabies through your cut, as the virus can sit for a long while on the walls of a cave, left there in the urine of an infected bat.

Of course, contracting any of these diseases is uncommon. Explore safely and wear gloves!

Photo credit: Bigstock.com

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