Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that can infect all warmblooded animals, including humans. A disease of the central nervous system, rabies is present in the saliva of infected animals and can be transmitted through a bite or by introducing infected saliva into a wound or in the eye or mouth.  Rabies is widespread in the U.S. and in most parts of the world.  Although a very a small percentage of animals are likely to harbor the disease, all students are taught to stay clear from any animal encountered during their course.  This procedure is necessary to help ensure the safety of all participants.  If a suspected rabid animal comes into contact with a student, a physician and the legal guardian will be notified to determine whether anti-rabies treatment should be administered.

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Lyme's Disease is an infection resulting from a bacterial agent transmitted by the bite of certain species of ticks.  Since its official recognition in Lyme, CT in 1976, the disease has been found in all of the lower 48 states.  The carrier of the disease in Connecticut has been identified as the blacklegged tick (formerly known as the deer tick), which is found in many of the program areas used by the Wilderness School. 


The Wilderness School follows prevention guidelines that include the use of insect repellent and having students perform periodic body and clothing checks, especially in those program areas that are known to harbor ticks.  Any attached ticks are removed carefully.  Not all blacklegged ticks are carriers and those that harbor the disease will not always transmit bacterium.  Common symptoms of early Lymes’ Disease include neck stiffness, jaw discomfort, pain and stiffness in the muscles or joints, swollen glands, slight fever, fatigue, headache, and conjunctivitis.  Another typical early symptom of the disease is a slowly expanding rash.  Later symptoms of the untreated disease can include complications of the heart, nervous system or joints.


If a person becomes infected and it is detected early, Lymes’ Disease is easily treated with antibiotics.  However, if a student is infected during their course, the symptoms may not develop until they are back at home.  Any student who has had a tick bite followed by a rash or has experienced the symptoms listed above should consult a physician.  It is important to note that a student may not be aware that they have been bitten by a tick and that any student experiencing these symptoms should be examined and tested for Lymes’s Disease.  

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The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states typical symptoms for West Nile viral infections in people are mild inflammation of the brain with symptoms that include fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands.  More severe infection may be marked by headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis and rarely, death.

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Symptoms of Giardiasis usually appear seven to ten days (and sometimes as long as four weeks after ingesting the parasite through untreated drinking water.  The most common symptoms are diarrhea, foul, greasy stools, abdominal cramps, bloating, increased gas, weakness, and weight loss.


If any signs or symptoms develop promptly consult with your physician, as early intervention is often critical.