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Postby Beaker » Fri Dec 07, 2007 11:21 pm

If you do enough research you will also find that Giardia Lamblia is more prevalent in Colorado than the Sierra Nevadas.

To use words like "non-existent, utterly impossible, and no-way" after reading articles on the intermet about Sierra Nevada studies is ridiculous. So a Dr. (Fuller, I believe) wrote a paper...we're supposed to take that as "law"? What about the Dr's that support foolish and unsafe weight-loss techniques or male enhancement products that make outlandish claims?

You say that Giarda and cryptosporidium do not just magically appear and that if the water is from run-off it must be safe to drink. Do animals not defecate in the snow?? What if another human was in the same area recently and brought a pet? What if the pet decided to take a dump in the snow or lake?? Companion animals are known to be the highest carriers of giardia.

While it may not be "LIKELY" it is certainly not utterly impossible to contact giardiasis from the backcountry.
You have a cough? Eat a whole box of Ex-Lax tonite, tomorrow you'll be afraid to cough.

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Postby jhaas » Sat Dec 08, 2007 12:04 am

For what was intended to be a benign post this has gotten interesting.I'm learning stuff that i wasn't even aware of.From a scientific view, What is the concentration of cysts that would cause health hazards? What is the typical(If we know) concentration of cysts in typical(whatever that means) high country stream? How much water would one have to drink in order for the water to become a health hazard? Does iodine kill the cysts? Do we know that Colorado has a higher concentration than the Sierras? Are there other "nasty critters" out there in the water that we need to be worried about? So I guess the bottom line is just how safe is Colorado backcountry water? I don't imagine there are Colorado "cattle tanks" so we are not talking about something that obviously would be contaminated? Would Iodine take care of any potential problem? Is the talk about contaminated water simply a marketing tool to sell us purifiers that we really don't need? I can think of lots of supposed scientific principles that were unquestioned at one time but were later proven to be false.There are people on "death row" convicted on the basis of what was later shown to be faulty science.How many people did The Atkins diet actually help in the long run? I suppose though it wouldn't hurt to err on the side of caution.

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Postby rijaca » Sat Dec 08, 2007 9:04 am

Consider this article regarding incidence of giardia in Colorado:

http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/105/4/330

"These results indicated that G. lamblia is endemic in Colorado and that drinking untreated mountain water is an important cause of endemic infection."

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Postby strat1080 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 9:06 am

So just what are the Giardia cyst levels in Colorado's mountain water? Why don't you post a reference? At this point I have posted three different references as well as the mountaineering text I have referred to that support my opinion. So are all of these people simply crazed lunatics that are giving bad advice? The only people telling you that the water isn't safe are those selling filters and purifiers to people. These products are mainly intended for backpackers that hike at lower altitudes where water treatment definitely makes sense. The only studies I've seen in which people actually went out and tested backcountry water and compared the pathogen levles to municipal water suggest that there isn't a threat.

You obviously didn't read my entire post. I never said it is utterly impossible to contract giardia or any other protozoa in the backcountry. I was referring specifically to CONative's case in which he dropped a closed and empty bottle of water in a stream. He rinsed the bottle off with treated water and let the bottle dry. He couldn't have gotten his case of Crypto from this incident is what I was saying. If you read my posts you will see that I said that people can and do contract intestinal illnesses in the mountains but there is a 99.9% chance that it didn't come from the water. I'm trying to educate people that stuff like giardia and crypto aren't just mysterious organisms that are only prevalent in mountain water. At any given moment you could be drinking giardia from your tap water at home. Actually minor exposure to giardia is actually beneficial as it allows the human body to develop a certain degree of immunity to the parasite.

Of course animals defecate in the wilderness but you also have to apply common sense. If several animals defecate even near the water how many are infected? You also have to figure that the cyst levels will be highly diluted by the volume of water. Another thing is that streams are constantly carrying the cysts downstream. In other words when an animal defecates near water some of the cysts may find their way to the water but these cysts will be dramatically diluted and carried downstream where they will be even further diluted. What you have to watch out for are small stagnant bodies of water where there are visual signs of animal activity immediately around the body of water. There has to be a certain level of cysts per liter of water to make a person sick. There hasn't been a single study to my knowledge that has suggested that there are pathogen levels in backcountry high enough to cause illness. If anybody has seen such a study please post it.

My knock against filters are the sanitary issues of handling all of the tubes with your hands, the weight and bulk, as well as how long they take to set up, pump, and stow away. A person who doesn't practice adequate sanitation habits can essentially infect another with giardia or crypto by simply handling the filter. I doubt many go through great lenths to keep them clean as well. This isn't an issue with chlorine dioxide tablets and UV based purifiers. The point I'm getting at it that water purification or filtration equipment for mountaineering has to be lightweight, convenient, and quick given the nearly non-existant threat. If you are going to bring something as a "just in case" item it better weigh less than 1/4 of a pound and be simple and easy to use. If you notice in my original post, I use the Katadyn Micropor tablets which are easier to use and overall more effective at treating water than filters. They are essentially weightless and don't take up any room in your pack. They are effective against everything known to man, including viruses.

Beaker wrote:If you do enough research you will also find that Giardia Lamblia is more prevalent in Colorado than the Sierra Nevadas.

To use words like "non-existent, utterly impossible, and no-way" after reading articles on the intermet about Sierra Nevada studies is ridiculous. So a Dr. (Fuller, I believe) wrote a paper...we're supposed to take that as "law"? What about the Dr's that support foolish and unsafe weight-loss techniques or male enhancement products that make outlandish claims?

You say that Giarda and cryptosporidium do not just magically appear and that if the water is from run-off it must be safe to drink. Do animals not defecate in the snow?? What if another human was in the same area recently and brought a pet? What if the pet decided to take a dump in the snow or lake?? Companion animals are known to be the highest carriers of giardia.

While it may not be "LIKELY" it is certainly not utterly impossible to contact giardiasis from the backcountry.
Quit whining and move your %$# up that mountain.

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Postby strat1080 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 9:13 am

This report is way too general to draw any type of conclusion for mountaineering purposes. There is no reference to cyst levels as well as what altitudes and types of campsites people were camped at.

rijaca wrote:Consider this article regarding incidence of giardia in Colorado:

http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/105/4/330

"These results indicated that G. lamblia is endemic in Colorado and that drinking untreated mountain water is an important cause of endemic infection."
Quit whining and move your %$# up that mountain.

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Postby rijaca » Sat Dec 08, 2007 9:31 am

Or consider this article

http://www.ajtmh.org/cgi/content/abstract/25/3/384

"These surveys show that campers exposed to mountain stream water are at risk of acquiring giardiasis. "

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Postby strat1080 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 2:04 pm

So how do you explain this quote from the very same article? Sounds like more of the same. Blaming water with no basis.

Although the epidemiologic data and fecal coliform counts implicated the remote mountain stream used as water source by the group as the vehicle of transmission, Giardia lamblia cysts were not recovered from stream water nor were they found in intestines or feces of sampled mammals living in the drainage area.


rijaca wrote:Or consider this article

http://www.ajtmh.org/cgi/content/abstract/25/3/384

"These surveys show that campers exposed to mountain stream water are at risk of acquiring giardiasis. "
Quit whining and move your %$# up that mountain.

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Postby strat1080 » Sun Dec 09, 2007 8:50 pm

Good points. What I'm trying to say is that given that the risk is so extremely low, wouldn't it make sense to pack a water filtration or treatment mechanism that is lightweight and easy to use? Filters are heavy and bulky and take precious time to set up, pump, and stow away. They can also take quite a bit of effort to pump a lot of water. Lighter models typically take 2-3x more pumps than their heavier counterparts.

To my knowledge filters are not effective against chemicals(I could be wrong). Filters are effective against cysts and bacteria but are not effective against chemicals and viruses. If you are in an area with the potential for viruses such as Ecoli it would be best to use another form of treatment in combination with the filter, or simply leave your filter at home if you use another form of treatment. Again, my knock on filters. There are lighter, more convenient, and more effective options. I used to use a filter in the past but found it is too much work and its more likely that the handling of the filter with dirty hands will make you sick than the water you are actually filtering.

Most people who claim they got giardia never officially were diagnosed with it. There is a chance that they had another illness as there are many here in the US that are common. They likely got it from eating contaminated food. In the first article I posted, it states several incidents that happened in swimming pools and luncheons in which people shared contaminated food. If you want a good chance of getting giardia or crypto go to a public swimming pool swarming with toddlers.

Jared Workman wrote:strat1080 is correct that the presence of giardia is severely overblown in alpine settings. I'm not so sure this statement can be extended to lower lying areas that see frequent wildlife activity or agricultural areas and it certainly can't be extended to east coast regions, agricultural regions, and midwestern regions with a higher prevalence of fauna. I'd say the call as to whether giardia is more or less likely is very dependent on your geographic location.

The big problem is that it is impossible to tell. There are no assurances that if you follow a strict set of rules that you'll be worry free.

I'll drink water that I can SEE is coming from snowmelt, other than that I filter it. I'd bet that 95 percent of the time the filtration is not needed but if you've ever had the stuff you won't take those odds.

Another added benefit of filtration is that you can remove sediment and chemicals and that's a benefit giving the mining that takes place in this state.

I think strat1080 is correct in pointing out how extremely the danger has been overblown but I won't take even the small chance of going through that experience again.
Quit whining and move your %$# up that mountain.

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Postby rijaca » Sun Dec 09, 2007 9:15 pm

FYI, E. Coli is a bacterium, not a virus. My Katadyn Hiker Pro weighs all of 11 oz, and I can pump ~1 l/min. Thats pretty light and quick, IMHO. In addition, the activated carbon in the filter provides some protection against chemicals (not that I am too worried about chemicals in the backcountry). Maybe the risk is small, but why take the chance?

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Postby strat1080 » Mon Dec 10, 2007 10:16 am

The Steripen Adventurer weighs 3.6oz and all you have to is place it in the water and push a button. I have had to wait for people to pump water and trust me if you actually time it, it takes much longer than a minute to setup, pump, and stow away. A packet of 30 Micropur tablets weigh .7 ounces wrapped in foil. 11 ounces is nearly 3/4 of a pound. That isn't lightweight. It is essentially a "piece of mind" item.

rijaca wrote:FYI, E. Coli is a bacterium, not a virus. My Katadyn Hiker Pro weighs all of 11 oz, and I can pump ~1 l/min. Thats pretty light and quick, IMHO. In addition, the activated carbon in the filter provides some protection against chemicals (not that I am too worried about chemicals in the backcountry). Maybe the risk is small, but why take the chance?
Quit whining and move your %$# up that mountain.

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Postby austinsnow » Tue Dec 11, 2007 6:30 pm

i wouldnt be worried nor would i invest in a purifier. i use aqua mira drops and their great. they do the drop and for extra filthy water you can just add more drops and let it sit longer. besides for getting the water looking better, ive never seen the purpose for purifiers. as long as you are not dumb when it comes to water and use proper treatments you'll be fine.
"It is because they have so much to give and give it so lavishly...that men love the mountains and go back to them again and again."
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Postby strat1080 » Tue Dec 11, 2007 7:03 pm

AquaMira drops use the same chemical as the treatment system that I use. It is chlorine dioxide and has proven very effective against cysts, bacteria, and viruses. The nice thing about the Micropur tablets that I use is that each tablet is individually wrapped so the shelf life is 5 years. From what I understand the liquid form of chlorine dioxide has a much shorter shelf life once opened. If you frequently use the treatment then this isn't a big issue. I think chlorine dioxide treatments as well as UV based purifiers like the Steripen are the way to go. You can use a coffee filter over the opening of your water container of choice to strain out unwelcome solid matter.

austinsnow wrote:i wouldnt be worried nor would i invest in a purifier. i use aqua mira drops and their great. they do the drop and for extra filthy water you can just add more drops and let it sit longer. besides for getting the water looking better, ive never seen the purpose for purifiers. as long as you are not dumb when it comes to water and use proper treatments you'll be fine.
Quit whining and move your %$# up that mountain.

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