Teaching Camping Hazards with GIANTmicrobes
It’s almost time for Summer Camp! Which means there’s no time like the present to start teaching younger girls about the importance of insect repellent to keep their mosquito bites to a minimum and the dangers of watching for ticks. A great way to make this fun is with the use of the plush mosquito, tick, and Lyme Disease organisms from GIANTmicrobes!
These fun plush toys are a million times larger than the actual organisms and cells that they represent. They are a tactile way to teach kids about health, their bodies, and their environment without complicated technical drawings. GIANTmicrobes was good enough to provide Girl Scout Guide with a plush mosquito, tick, and Lyme Disease in their original 5″ size complimentary to spread the message!
As I mentioned, these plush pests are 5″. They’re are 3,000 species of mosquito, but the most common are Culex pipiens. Only the females bite, sucking your blood like tiny vampires! Girls going off to camp need to know that they can get some nasty infections and viruses from mosquitoes, so regularly applying a good insect repellent is very important, for more than just avoiding itchy bites!
Mosquitoes can carry malaria, yellow fever, and West Nile Virus. Insect repellents with diethyltoluamide (DEET), lemon eucalyptus, or picaridin are the most effective to keep mosquitoes away while your girl is having fun on the lake with her new camp friends!
These slightly larger little vampires can be found in deep woods and grassy plains. Ticks can be as large as grapes or as small as a pinpoint, but all can carry diseases. Ixodes scapularis, their scientific name, are actually not insects, but arachnids more closely related to spiders. These little buggers can carry tularemia, Rocky-Mountain Spotted Fever, and most famously Lyme Disease.
Girls should always check for ticks after prolonged time in the woods, like camping in deep woods or a hike through. There is ample time to remove ticks before they can transmit these diseases. While there are many remedies floating around that involve heated pins, matches, or gasoline, all of these should be avoided as they can drive the tick further into the skin. The best method of removal is to grasp the tick with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, flip it onto it’s back slowly (you don’t want to dislodge the “head”, or mouthparts, from the skin) and pull gently until it’s removed. Washing the area with alcohol and maybe a clove of garlic should make it safe to remove.
One of many diseases that can be transmitted by ticks, Lyme Disease is the most commonly reported tick-borne illness. This disease is initially identified with aches, fever, fatigue, and the signature bulls-eye shaped rash at the site of the tick bite. Antibiotics can help, however Lyme Disease is sometimes hard diagnose quickly as it can be misdiagnosed. This disease can lead to more problems later in life like arthritis, facial paralysis, meningitis, and more. Some victims of Lyme Disease can also develop cognitive issues like memory loss and mood changes.
Lyme Disease is diagnosed in approximately 300,000 people in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. LymeDisease.org has published a Lyme Disease symptom checklist that all campers should be familiar with. All leaders and camp counselors should also be diligent with checking for ticks after extended periods of time outdoors and should know what to do if they find a tick to avoid this disease.
Each GIANTmicrobes toy comes with some facts about the microbe in the tag and their website has lots of information about the organism as well. All of these facts will help with teaching your girls about not just how important insect repellent or checking for ticks can be, but with their wide selection you can use these plushy germs to teach them all kinds of lessons!