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Gastro/intestinal problems and self infection
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Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Gastro/intestinal problems and self infection on 03/23/2012 09:27:52 MDT Print View

In the recent thread about the missing hiker with gastro/intestinal problems, one of the suggested, possible causes was a self infection due to poor hygiene after a toilet run. It sounds counter-intuitive that you can get sick from your own pathogens from/into the same pipe system but there must be a reason, does anybody know?

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Re: Gastro/intestinal problems and self infection on 03/23/2012 12:10:26 MDT Print View

I understand that the pyloric valve in your stomach makes sure the passage of material to your digestive track is one-way, i.e. from stomach to duodenum, and doesn't allow nasties that live further along to get in.

Thus you do not want the stuff living in the parts past your (or someone else's) stomach to get into your stomach, and self-contamination can make you just as sick as cross-contamination.

Anecdotal evidence on the AT is that most digestive problems come from contamination, not bad water.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Gastro/intestinal problems and self infection on 03/23/2012 12:44:26 MDT Print View

You have (and need) a lot of bacteria in your lower GI tract. You don't want them above your small intenstine (e.g. throat, stomach). A few people have infections that will make you very, very sick (typhoid Mary, Hep A, cholera), but everyone, including you, have normal gut bacteria that will knock you down for a few days if you ingest them. At home, you take a day off work, sit on the toilet a lot, drink fluids and take an OTC anti-dirrehal drug. On the trail the dehydration, loss of energy and mobility can cascade into a bad situation.

Timothy Reynolds
(magrenell) - M

Locale: New England
Gastro Infection on 03/24/2012 12:58:46 MDT Print View

I have had serious gastro-intestinal surgery in the past, so I have to be extra vigilant about this. I've found that hand-sanitizer alone won't always prevent infections, so it's important to thoroughly wash hands with (eco-friendly) soap when possible. This is not to say that cross-contamination won't happen. So, I also bring an antibiotic with me—Xifaxin—which targets nasty bugs should they (in my instance, quite easily) make their way into my gut. Xifaxin targets just the "bad" bacteria, and leaves the rest alone. Nonetheless, augmenting my liquid intake with Ceralyte is essential in these instances. Xifaxin is a prescription drug, and its use/potential use should be discussed with your doctor beforehand—I'm just saying that a) I'm prone to infections despite my best efforts, b) I've found that it stops infections in their tracks when used.


Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Hand-to-mouth contamination on 03/24/2012 22:06:23 MDT Print View

Hand-to-mouth contanimation with e-coli bacteria is probably THE most common illness which backpackers suffer according to what my wilderness & Outdoor medicine manuals say.

I ALWAYS carry hand sanitizer in a Ziploc with my TP and use it liberally after a BM.

Andrew McAlister
(mcalista) - F
Hand Sanitizer on 03/25/2012 08:10:34 MDT Print View

+1 with Eric.

Sanitizer lives with TP - that way there is no excuse, no forgetting.