Types of Cave Disease To Avoid While Spelunking

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While exploring an unexplored cave, it is natural to want to see what youג€™re stepping into. However, some caves are home to hostile microorganisms that pose a great danger to inexperienced explorers. Even inexperienced cavers can be exposed to these pathogens. The most dangerous type of cave disease is known as sCL-T or Spelaeological (cave) Level Type T. It is a highly contagious and extremely lethal form of White-Nose Syndrome which is caused by a type of fungus called Geotrichum candidum.
It attacks bats and other mammals, usually causing death within six weeks if not treated. While the primary vectors for this disease are bats, humans are also susceptible to it due to our close proximity with caves and underground habitats. Fortunately, there are several types of cave diseases that can be avoided as you explore uncharted caves. Letג€™s take a look at the most common ones:

What diseases can you get from spelunking?

The most common diseases to avoid is bat lyssavirus. This disease can spread from bats to humans through contact with infected animal or from droppings or urine, and can have symptoms of fever and headache as well as hearing loss.
Cave sepsis is another condition that you should be aware of. This is a general term for any harmful bacteria found in caves such as ones that cause meningitis or tetanus. In some cases, exposure to these bacteria has been known to lead to death.
SCL-T, the type of spelaeological (cave) level type T mentioned earlier, is a highly contagious fungus that infects many different types of mammals and causes death within six weeks if not treated.
The last major concern is exposure to CO2 levels that are too high while underground. Some gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), methane (CH4), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), oxygen (O2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2) can all be deadly at over 1% concentrations, but they are not often fatal at lower concentrations in healthy individuals.

What should you not do when caving?

-Do not touch any bats or bat guano without wearing gloves.
-Do not disturb any animals that you may find, including insects, snakes, and lizards.
-Do not eat anything from an unknown source.
-Do not drink water from a source that has never been tested for contamination.
-Do not use fresh water as a source of drinking water.

What is cave histoplasmosis?

Cave histoplasmosis is a type of fungus that attacks the lungs and other tissues in humans. It can cause the person to have pneumonia, coughing up bloody phlegm, and even die. This disease is spread through breathing contaminated air and usually has an incubation period of eight days or less. In rare cases, it can take up to three weeks for symptoms to appear.

What precautions we should take while inside the cave?

To avoid most of the above mentioned diseases, it is important to be cautious. There are many precautions we can take while inside the cave to ensure our safety. For one, bring a head lamp with you. This will help illuminate the path and allow you to look for potential dangers in advance. It is also highly recommended that you wear gloves or use other personal protection when entering an unknown cave. You should also stay on the path that has been marked as a safe route by someone who knows what they’re doing. This path will have markers along it that indicate where there have been intersections of different types of rock that may contain dangerous organisms such as bats and rodents.
Lastly, be sure to keep your dog leashed during your exploration either outside or in the cave while they are not wearing a muzzle at all times. This is important because some dogs carry disease-carrying parasites and can infect humans if they get too close to us without warning us first.

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Beth Kent

Beth Kent

Hi, Welcome to my caving world!
I've been caving for the past 23 years, and through these years, I have learned so much about caving life and its techniques. I genuinely believe that caving is one of the most fascinating activities out there, and if you haven't tried it yet, you should!

About Me

The exploration of natural or artificial caverns from casual trips to caves with well-established trails to expeditions into remote and largely unexplored caverns is a great passion for me for the past 15 years. Sharing it here with you is my new hobby so I hope  you enjoy :)

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