A recent grizzly bear attack in Montana has spring hikers and campers worried about wild animal encounters. Global Rescue has seen a variety of illnesses and injuries — many the result of a wild animal encounter — and offers prevention and safety advice.
When the snow begins to melt in spring, bears start to rouse from hibernation. And, according to the National Park Service, they are hungry and immediately begin searching for food.
If you are hiking or camping this spring, you’ll want to steer clear of bears. A hiker in Montana wasn’t so lucky when he came upon a grizzly bear. Global Rescue, the pioneer of worldwide field rescue, has seen a variety of illnesses and injuries — many the result of a wild animal encounter.
Here in the United States, bites from dogs, kicks from farm animals, and stings from bees, wasps and hornets continue to represent the most danger to humans, according to a study in Wilderness & Environmental Medicine, but, when you are traveling abroad, you may encounter rabid dogs, infected mosquitos or angry wildlife.
“The best way to survive an animal attack is to avoid them, just like an avalanche or even terrorist attack,” says Harding Bush, manager of operations at Global Rescue. “Travelers need to be aware of areas and times or seasons when dangerous animal activity occurs and plan your activity around those facts. Many locations, including National State Parks, have laws and regulations about traveling into animal territory.”
Despite best efforts, an encounter may happen. If it does, here are a few animal attack stories from Global Rescue members — and some tips to keep you safe during your outdoor adventures.
Global Rescue member Tenn Nelson was traveling in India when he was bitten by a wild dog. He had traveled to India the year before, but hadn’t received a rabies vaccination along with his other shots. His mother, Beth, called Global Rescue. Global Rescue advised Tenn on how to obtain the medicine he needed and how to seek assistance at a local clinic to administer treatment.
Dogs are the main source of human rabies deaths, contributing up to 99% of all rabies transmissions to humans.
“As a rule, travelers should presume all stray animals, who are naturally unpredictable and likely carriers of infectious disease, including rabies,” said David Koo, associate director of operations at Global Rescue. “Avoid contact with them and maintain a safe distance.”
Learn more about staying safe around stray animals while traveling.
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ve probably come across a snake before. And, hopefully, you successfully avoided it. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 5.4 million people are bitten each year with up to 2.7 million envenomings. Approximately 81,000 to 138,000 people die each year because of snake bites, and around three times as many amputations and other permanent disabilities are caused by snakebites annually.
“Rural areas lacking appropriate medical care and quick access to anti-venom contribute to the high number of snakebite fatalities,” Koo said.
Global Rescue conducted a medical evacuation for a member bitten by an African cobra in Namibia, and offers these snakebite treatment suggestions.
Mosquitoes carry many types of diseases such as Malaria, Zika and Dengue, to name a few. Infected mosquitoes can pass these diseases to humans through their bite. When you are far away from home, the best course of action is to prevent the bite in the first place.
“You can minimize the chance of mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks; use EPA-registered insect repellent; and cover sleeping areas with mosquito nettings,” Koo said.
Other insects can be dangerous, too. Global Rescue member Linda Hanks suspected she was bitten by a brown recluse spider and used the Global Rescue Mobile App to request a TotalCare urgent consult. Within 10 minutes, a physician from the Elite Medical Group confirmed the diagnosis and provided Hanks with home remedies.
Global Rescue member Angie Heister was gored by a male Cape buffalo while walking through the Tsitsingombe River Valley in Zimbabwe. A giraffe stampeded Global Rescue Members Daniel and Laura Core while driving to their hotel inside Zimbabwe’s Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park.
Wild animals are unpredictable, and the results can be devastating. Always listen to your guide (both members did) and respect the wildlife, no matter what country you are visiting. Our friends at OutdoorLife magazine also have some great advice on how to survive wild animal attacks. If bears are your concern this season, the National Park Service offers advice for black bear, brown bear and grizzly bear attacks.
If you plan on exploring off road and into the wild this spring, take a travel protection membership with you. The Global Rescue Operations Team is standing by 24/7/365 to provide travel assistance and advisory services to members worldwide. If an animal encounter turns into an animal attack, members should contact Global Rescue at the time of exposure so we can coordinate post-exposure care in a timely manner. We also provide field rescue (from the point of illness/injury to the hospital) and hospital transport (if you need advanced care) for your outdoor adventures across the globe.
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