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7 Diseases To Be Aware Of When The SHTF And How To Prevent Them

When the SHTF, you need to be aware of the likely diseases to watch out for and how to prevent them. Here are the 7 most common and their symptoms.

First world countries have access to medicine, fresh and clean water right out of your faucet and pre-made food in the grocery store around the block. When the SHTF, it won’t be so easy. When the SHTF you won’t have access to water or sanitation and hygiene will drop to an all-time low.

Waste disposal companies will be closed resulting to trash all over the place, attracting all kinds of pests. Sanitation systems will be down, which will result into human feces piling up along with the trash. This will result in an inevitable hygiene crisis that will make diseases spread very quickly.

The following diseases aren’t relevant in an everyday situation, but will form a major threat in a survival situation. Be prepared when the SHTF. Remember the symptoms and make sure to what for the symptoms.

1. Meningitis

The danger of Meningitis is that it can be viral. This forms a great risk where a lot of people are living together. Viral meningitis is spread more easily than bacterial meningitis, but viral meningitis is far less lethal. Symptoms of meningitis are a stiff feeling neck, headaches, decreased appetite, nausea and an increased sensitivity to light. A simple way to check this is the glass test. Instructions on this can be found here.

2. Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a bacteria that harms humans by attacking the intestines. Both humans and animals can contract the bacteria, which is a disaster when the SHTF. Infected water could lead to a humongous outbreak. While leptospirosis is not fatal in most of the cases, it can lead to other illnesses such as meningitis. The symptoms of leptospirosis resemble those of the flu. Identifying the illness may be difficult to do without the right equipment.

3. West Nile Virus

The West Nile Virus is spread via mosquito bites. When a disaster strikes your location, this will be disastrous. A disaster will lead to sanitation systems being down, sanitation systems being down will lead to a gigantic amount of bugs, and a gigantic amount of bugs means a gigantic amount of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes will become infected with the virus by biting other infected animals, and can infect human beings this way. The symptoms resemble those of the flu, but luckily is rarely fatal.

4. Typhoid Fever

Typhoid Fever is spread by contact with (infected) human feces. This illness is not to be taken lightly, as it is a serious condition and can be fatal. The main symptoms are a high fever and the development of a rash. Symptoms start to appear after a week. The main source of transmission is water infected by the bacteria.

5. Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is one of the hardest illnesses to diagnose, as it seems to imitate a lot of other illnesses. Most infected people won’t develop any symptoms from tuberculosis, because their immune system blocks it out. In a disastrous situation where their immune system does get weakened, tuberculosis would likely become active. Tuberculosis gets spread via the air. The illness usually attacks the lungs, inducing a cough and pain in the chest. Infected people usually also have a lack of appetite and feel very weak.

6. Hepatitis A

This illness can be contracted via contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A gets contracted very easily – an infected person would only need to touch someone, who in turn touches their food and eats it, to infect them. The symptoms usually consist of pain on the right side of your body, a tired feeling and a lack of appetite. One of the biggest signals of an infection is a yellow toned skin and yellow whites of the eyes.

7. Cholera

Although the disease is ‘extinct’ in the United States, it could easily return in a situation where the SHTF. Symptoms are diarrhea, which leads to dehydration. Other symptoms are cramping muscles, an increased heart rate and a low blood pressure. The disease is spread by contaminated water. A region struck by infected flood waters instantly turns into a danger zone.

BONUS: Dysentery

Dysentery is a term used to describe an infection or a parasite inside of your intestines. Dysentery can be contracted by dirty drinking water or uncooked food. Symptoms are cramps in the abdominal region, rapid weight loss, fever, and last but not least, bloody diarrhea.

In some of the cases above, antibiotics can be used to treat the diseases. Be sure to add them to your prep items.


In a situation where the SHTF, diseases that have been eradicated a long, long time ago make a comeback. Sanitation systems will be down and waste disposal companies will be closed, which will result to trash all over the place, and human feces piling up along with the trash. A hygiene crisis will be inevitable and diseases will rise from the ground.

Make sure you keep your space around you as clean as possible. Rats, insects and more are attracted to areas where they can get food and water easily. They sometimes carry these diseases. See this link for more information on how to keep your family safe for this threat.

Make sure to cook your foods well and disinfect your water either by cooking it or using purification tabs. Water is the easiest way for diseases, so keep an eye out for floods and filthy water sources.

Also be sure to be safe by not risking your life for contaminated drinking water. Food and water will be sparse, but taking the risk by drinking contaminated water will only decrease the chance of survival. If you really have to drink contaminated water, try to purify it first by at least boiling it thoroughly.

Final Thoughts

People will likely team up and camp together, which makes chances for spreading diseases very high. This is yet another reason to be prepared for a survival situation.

The lack of sanitation systems, corpses, and flood waters all contribute to spreading of diseases. The diseases listed above don’t get a lot of attention in the first world, as we have medicine to treat them. But when the SHTF, we will not be as prepared for these diseases and we need to know to identify the diseases and how to make sure not to spread them.

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Sergeant Survival

I spread the news of disaster preparedness and homesteading skills to the masses. My mission is to teach the keyboard commandos out there some real life skills.


  1. A good article to shake us out of complacent mindset. We’ve lost our fear of some of these diseases – that’s dangerous. Thank you.

  2. Shouldn’t the title be Eight diseases? Good info.

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