Land leeches and what tourists and travelers need to know about them
One of the most common parasites that any traveler or tourist in warm countries can encounter is a land leech. They are found in the forests of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, India and other tropical countries. Of course, if your vacation is only related to relaxing on the beach, you are unlikely to get to know them, so you can no longer read. But if your plans include excursions to parks and forests, trekking trips to the jungle or mountains, then the chance to become their “victim” is very large.
A land leech This is what a land leech looks like
We must say right away that land leeches in most cases are completely harmless and leave behind only small bruises and unpleasant memories. The bite itself is painless, it can only sometimes itch later, not from the leech itself, but from the dirt that you yourself will bring into the wound. After a bite, blood can flow from several minutes to several tens of minutes, since it will clot poorly. Leech infections do not tolerate.
But there is the only case where leeches can be really dangerous – a hirudinosis disease. This is when the parasite enters the body cavity, and remains there to live and multiply. They can get inside through the mouth, nose, anus, vagina, urethra. Such cases are very rare, but remembering the precautions will not hurt.
Land Leech Adjacent Land Leech
So, how to handle land leeches, and properly defend against them:
Where can I find land leeches
Leeches, although they are called land leeches, live only in moist forests, in fields, near ponds and swamps. In cities, dry settlements, on asphalt and dry dirt roads, in open and rocky spaces, they do not occur. But you just have to get out of the dry place into the grass, go under the tree, come closer to the water, how you can “catch” the parasite. Especially many leeches appear in the rainy season.
Ground leeches crawl on the ground, on the grass, can climb bushes and trees, but not very high: it is believed that they are “afraid of heights” of more than 1 meter. But do not think that they are slow and clumsy. When necessary, they do not crawl, but stretch out to their full height and seem to walk, and very quickly and deftly.
Once they fall victim, they don’t lose time, and, finding an open area of skin, they immediately suck on. People are usually hit by grass and foliage, and quickly move around shoes and clothes in search of skin. They can climb into shoes, leak through socks, thin and soft fabric of sweatpants or T-shirts.
What to do if sucked
If a land leech is stuck, do not panic and be afraid. As we mentioned, there is no harm from them, they do not tolerate diseases. It is believed that it is not worth it to remove leeks that have already sucked in, as they can “burp” freshly drunk blood under your skin, and with it dirt. Therefore, it is better to wait until it is saturated with blood and itself disappears. This usually takes 10-30 minutes, and this time is not necessarily worth the wait. You can ignore the hike or go about your business.
If you do not want to tolerate her presence on the skin, then you can do with it, as the inhabitants of the tropics do: just tear off with your fingers. But it is much safer to remove by cauterization with a match or a cigarette, iodine solution, alcohol, gasoline, strong salt solution.
How to protect yourself
Usually they are protected from land leeches by clothes. The principle is simple: do not allow parasites to get to open areas of the skin, for which you need to observe the principle of tightness. Of course, you should not overdo it with such protection during the batch of a group excursion, but for a serious trekking trip to the jungle or mountains, it’s worth taking action.
So, you need to wear as high shoes as possible, for which high trekking boots with a sewn tongue are great. Synthetic socks are needed, as leeches can easily leak through simple socks. Trousers also need tight ones, and they need to be tucked into socks or shoes, and secured with elastic bands or tape. There are also special dense fabric shoe covers that are worn on the foot from the boot to the knee, and are tightly tightened around the edges. By the way, it is quite possible to replace them with a plastic bag, wrapping it around the edges with scotch tape or pulling it with an elastic band, but you need to fix it from the shoe itself so that everything is tight.
Another way of protecting is the exact opposite. Residents of the tropics, on the contrary, as a rule, do not defend themselves, but simply develop the habit of walking in dry places where leeches are not found, and constantly inspecting the body and removing them before they are sucked. It helps them in this just a minimum of clothing on the body and light shoes, usually slippers. Therefore, it’s sometimes really easier to take off your shoes, take off your socks, and roll up your trousers to the knees and above to go through the leech plot.
If you have to spend the night in a tent in the forest, the task is very complicated. Ground leeches easily penetrate nets and locks (snakes), so you need to maintain tightness to the maximum.