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I probably have Giardia.. and it's no fun :-(
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Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: I probably have Giardia.. and it's no fun :-( on 04/18/2014 08:28:00 MDT Print View

" Cells never divide evenly. A cell that is 5 microns may produce two daughter cells: One at 4.99micron, most of the contents, one that only contains a little celluular material and half the nucleous at .01 micron. "

And this is not even to mention that the "holes" in the filter are statistically distributed as well. Probably those have an even greater dispersion of sizes. Rated 1 micron, for example, only means % of particles 1u in size that get through is X, where X is some small number believed to be safe enough.

It has been a while since I had an orgy of reading the literature, more than a decade, so I'm rusty. My understanding is that the dormant giardia cysts can survive a lot of mistreatment and are much harder to kill. I know/ they can stick around in the gut for a while, but I don't remember if they can wake up on that time scale and in those conditions, or if the "danger" is just that they will get crapped out somewhere where they will spread the distribution.

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Hang in there on 04/18/2014 08:32:36 MDT Print View

Sometimes our hiking is grounded from events resulting from our actions or beyond our control (grounded due to a kwappy dental suturing job myself). It's happened, ... nothing can be done except recovery, working on other stuff. A good excuse to get some household stuff done or do some reading.

Edited by hknewman on 04/18/2014 08:34:26 MDT.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: I probably have Giardia.. and it's no fun :-( on 04/18/2014 08:33:50 MDT Print View

Unfortunately, there's just no way to know where you caught your illness, whatever the specific pathogen might be. It could have been contaminated food from a restaurant a few days ago.

I've consumed plenty of carefully-selected untreated and unfiltered water from wilderness streams without getting sick, yet my worst cases of intestinal illness were likely from salad bars and restaurants with freshly-made sandwiches.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: I probably have Giardia.. and it's no fun :-( on 04/18/2014 08:43:18 MDT Print View

"There are extremophile organisms that can survive higher temps, but NOT pathological organisms. We're talking about your gut, not a mid-oceanic-ridge volcanic vent in a Nat'l Geo magazine."

And here's a shout out for thermus aquaticus, one such bacterium that was found in steam vents in Yellowstone - without whose heat resistant DNA polymerase the human genome project, modern genetic testing, and the whole current wave of the molecular biology revolution would not have been possible. There should be a gold-plated steam bath somewhere cared for in perpetuity so their ancestors can live out their lives in luxury and splendor. :-)

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: I probably have Giardia.. and it's no fun :-( on 04/18/2014 08:44:59 MDT Print View

Finish a course of flagyl and be done.
No big deal (at least for me).

Just don't make the same mistake again.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: I probably have Giardia.. and it's no fun :-( on 04/18/2014 10:02:38 MDT Print View

"And this is not even to mention that the "holes" in the filter are statistically distributed as well. Probably those have an even greater dispersion of sizes. Rated 1 micron, for example, only means % of particles 1u in size that get through is X, where X is some small number believed to be safe enough."

It depends on the filter.



From the Sawyer web page -

"Each Sawyer filter is certified for ABSOLUTE microns; that means there is no pore size larger than 0.1 or 0.02 micron in size. This makes it impossible for harmful bacteria, protozoa, or cysts like E. coli, Giardia, Vibrio cholerae and Salmonella typhi (which cause Cholera and Typhoid) to pass through the Sawyer PointONE™ biological filter. At 7 log (99.99999%) the filter attains the highest level of filtration available today.

"If viruses are an issue, we offer the Point ZeroTWO Purifier (0.02 micron absolute pores). This is the first and thus far only portable purification device to physically remove viruses. And it does it at a >5.5 log (99.9997%) rate, exceeding EPA and NSF recommendations."

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: I probably have Giardia.. and it's no fun :-( on 04/18/2014 11:29:05 MDT Print View

"You CANNOT get sick from yourself. Anything you have is already in you. Anything you do not have is not present in fecal matter, soiled clothing, or anything else you touch or ingest. It cannot happen. Illness is always an external event. (Well, 'cept cancer...)"

I've heard the opposite, i.e. that the flora and fauna in your lower digestive tract are kept separate from your upper digestive tract (e.g. stomach) by a valve system that makes sure the former don't get into the latter. When it does you can get sick.

Thus it is very important to wash your hands before food preparation, even if you are just cooking for yourself.

Can someone verify this?

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: RE: I probably have Giardia.. and it's no fun :-( on 04/18/2014 11:59:13 MDT Print View

... Thus it is very important to wash your hands before food preparation, even if you are just cooking for yourself.

Can someone verify this? ...


Bacteria are ubiquitous (all sorts of species and strains all over us, on us, or in us), so it just makes good sense to wash hands. Fecal matter is not sterile but once out, all sorts of additional microbes can start growing on it very quickly (exponential growth - where one cell becomes two of the same cells is called binary fission). Also remember we are talking about a microscopic scale. The human immune system plays a role too, I guess.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: RE: I probably have Giardia.. and it's no fun :-( on 04/18/2014 12:11:47 MDT Print View

>"flora and fauna in your lower digestive tract are kept separate from your upper digestive tract (e.g. stomach) by a valve system that makes sure the former don't get into the latter. When it does you can get sick.

Thus it is very important to wash your hands before food preparation, even if you are just cooking for yourself.

Can someone verify this?"

Yes. Your own e. coli are fine in your lower GI tract. You'd be "irregular" without them. But ingest a fair number of them and you'll be quite sick for a while.

A long-term, large-scale field experiment has been done: Rafting trips - living out of a boat on the Colorado River for 16 days with no plumbing or outhouses - used to have a fair number of sick rafters. In concert with requiring rafters to pack our all their poo (yes, the rangers check), private and guided trips went to a system of hand washing. Between the "groover" (the ammo-can you poop into) and camp, there is a wash station. You can't leave the groover without passing it. Also, there is great social pressure to use it (because others don't want to get sick) after pooping, before preparing food AND before eating (so you'd often wash hands three times in an evening. There is a 5-gallon bucket of bleached river water with a foot pump to a faucet. The faucet is over a waste-water bucket (so gray water can get dumped later). And there is alcohol-based hand sanitizer to use after soap and water. The groover and the wash station are the FIRST thing set up and the LAST thing packed up, so as to maximize usage. Since trips went to this system, sick rafters have been much rarer. But it is a combination of regulations, fines, education, hardware, procedures, peer pressure, and awareness of the consequences (helicopter rescue of a dehydrated rafter, for instance).

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Solar thermal and solar non-thermal treatment. on 04/18/2014 12:30:57 MDT Print View

>"Pasteurization of water doesn't actually need 175F, it's more like 150, but it has to stay there for several minutes"

That's what I've heard from specialists in third-world water treatment. Or 140F for an hour or two. A college friend devised a little capsule of high-temp oil with a string and a washer than would invert at 140F. So if the solar tank got hot enough during the day to invert the little gadget, it was good to go. If not, you'd give it another sunny day. 17 cents of parts and no batteries required. He was playing with a tube-in-tube heat exchanger in another design, because once to temperature, the solar-heated water could be used to pre-heat more water. He was only getting 18% efficiency on the HX because, I theorized, of laminar flow (thermosiphons are slow). "Dale, what's a granular material readily available for free in the third world?" After he packed the HX with coarse sand the efficiency went to 55%.

There's another approach that's probably more broadly useful and cheaper. A PEET bottle, with no label, left in full sun for a day renders it safe to drink. A "table" of corrugated roofing, sloped towards the sun makes a convenient holder of such bottles. Just keep track of which ones have seen a day of sun. For a base-camp setting or a zero day on the river, it could save a lot of fuel and/or pumping effort.

Cut&past from wikipedia:

Exposure to sunlight has been shown to deactivate diarrhea-causing organisms in polluted drinking water. Three effects of solar radiation are believed to contribute to the inactivation of pathogenic organisms:

UV-A interferes directly with the metabolism and destroys cell structures of bacteria.
UV-A (wavelength 320–400 nm) reacts with oxygen dissolved in the water and produces highly reactive forms of oxygen (oxygen free radicals and hydrogen peroxides) that are believed to also damage pathogens.
Cumulative solar energy (including the infrared radiation component) heats the water. If the water temperatures rises above 50 °C (122 °F), the disinfection process is three times faster.
At a water temperature of about 30 °C (86 °F), a threshold solar irradiance of at least 500 W/m2 (all spectral light) is required for about 5 hours for SODIS to be efficient. This dose contains energy of 555 Wh/m2 in the range of UV-A and violet light, 350–450 nm, corresponding to about 6 hours of mid-latitude (European) midday summer sunshine.

At water temperatures higher than 45 °C (113 °F), synergistic effects of UV radiation and temperature further enhance the disinfection efficiency.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: I probably have Giardia.. and it's no fun :-( on 04/18/2014 12:44:42 MDT Print View

Pretty soon we will hear if Kevin is a regular guy again.

--B.G.--

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: RE: I probably have Giardia.. and it's no fun :-( on 04/18/2014 13:04:08 MDT Print View

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=63223&startat=80

Read through these articles and comments. DK is a microbiologist. I studied a year and a half as part of nurse training. (Hey, most nurses are FEMALE.)

Generally, you do not reinfect yourself with anything from your own body. Maybe a few parasites. The e. coli in your body is not the same strain as the one that makes you sick.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: RE: I probably have Giardia.. and it's no fun :-( on 04/18/2014 13:27:15 MDT Print View

"Generally, you do not reinfect yourself with anything from your own body."

The women who have dealt with UTI/cystitis from improper wiping might disagree.

Or is that just another urban myth?

Edited by greg23 on 04/18/2014 14:30:37 MDT.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: I probably have Giardia.. and it's no fun :-( on 04/18/2014 13:45:31 MDT Print View

Well we are going off topic from Giardia to e.coli, but I disagree with the above statement that you cannot infect yourself with anything from your own body.

e.coli in the same person's intestine is not present in the bile, liver, blood, other fun organs.

It is a very serious issue when a person has an e.coli infection, even if the culprit strand is found in the output. starts with fever symptoms, spike high temp, stomach pains, dizziness.

At the hospitals in the US, a person with an e.coli infection is treated with hazardous material Infectious Disease gear. (even if it's proven to come from the same person)

A person I know had a problem with one-way output valve on a vital organ that outputs into the intestine, that one-way valve was malfunctioning, allowing bi-directional two way flow of the e.coli in the output to flow upstream as well, contaminating the vital organs one by one.

Anyway, it is NEVER safe to contaminate your food and water intake with your own body's solid waste output. Your stomach acids may not be equipped to neutralize that e.coli.

This is not the same thing as getting an immunization flu shot.

Edited by RogerDodger on 04/18/2014 13:56:24 MDT.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: I probably have Giardia.. and it's no fun :-( on 04/18/2014 14:31:21 MDT Print View

Getting any microorganism in a normally sterile site (blood, bladder, spinal fluid, etc.) is indeed very bad. But the GI tract is not normally sterile; we have a varied population of normal flora, and ingest bacteria when eating or kissing, just to give a couple of examples (and E. coli can be found in the mouth's normal flora, BTW, so swallowing one's own saliva may send E. coli through the upper GI tract and cause no problems). The lower GI tract is populated from the top down. Most organisms don't cause problems on their way through the tract, other than pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria.

RodgerDodger, where was the malfunctioning "valve" in your friend? I'm guessing that somehow the "backwash" contaminated sterile areas of the body, if it reached "vital organs", perhaps through the bloodstream eventually? It sounds quite serious.

As I mentioned in the thread James cited, what medical microbiology teaches (at least when I went to school, and I'm not aware of any significant changes in thinking in this area since then) is that the mechanism of GI disease in normal healthy individuals takes place one of a couple of general ways. One may ingest pathogenic bacteria (E. coli O157:H7 serotype, Salmonella, Vibrio cholerae, for example) that either invade the intestinal mucosa or produce enterotoxins that make us sick. The other way is to ingest food that has been overgrown with bacteria that produce toxins (staph or Clostridium, for example). For more detail see: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal_disorders/gastroenteritis/overview_of_gastroenteritis.html

All the references I've been able to find refer to the intestines as the target of these aforementioned disease process, as a result of *pathogenic* bacteria, not normal flora, and not in the upper GI tract (stomach, esophagus, mouth). It may be that ingesting a large amount of normal "garden variety" fecal flora may cause illness in a healthy individual, but I have seen nothing documenting that, what exactly the mechanism of such illness might be, or what quantity it would take to produce some sort of verifiable symptom. That's a study I won't be volunteering for, I can tell you!!!

Disclaimer: I don't consider myself primarily a microbiologist (though I did work briefly as one in a private reference lab) - rather I was a state-certified clinical lab scientist (mostly in hematology and immunohematology) in a hospital with a great microbiology department which saw pretty much everything under the sun, what with a large portion of the clientele being disadvantaged, homeless and/or immigrant: malaria, other exotic parasitic and bacterial diseases, you name it, we saw it.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: I probably have Giardia.. and it's no fun :-( on 04/18/2014 14:49:16 MDT Print View

re: dk
The infectious disease specialist couldn't be certain, but suspected malfunctioning "valve" near the bile, because the e.coli was creating expanding gas bubbles in the bile duct, caused abdominal pain. Eventually the infection spread to the blood stream and everywhere else. for about a week, specialist after specialist were playing Sherlock Holmes, guessing at the origin. At first thought it was Brie cheese sandwich haha!

With meds and many follow up tests, the culprit e.coli was cleaned out of the sterile organs and restricted to the downhill output factory.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: I probably have Giardia.. and it's no fun :-( on 04/18/2014 15:13:12 MDT Print View

I was guessing bile duct; that sounds like a terrible ordeal for your friend. I'm glad to hear that things turned out well in the end - whew!

Mark S
(gixer) - F
Dirtier water boil longer on 04/19/2014 08:37:32 MDT Print View

I think it also needs pointing out that IF the water is very dirty the boiling times suggested might not be enough.

If the Virus or bacteria is coated in debris it can act as pretty effective insulator.

For me personally i'll always err on the side of caution after being extremely ill from drinking contaminated water.

Years ago it took a lot of time effort and energy to clean water, now with current technologies and filters it's as easy as filling a bottle.

I've never been in a car crash on a public road where the impact was severe enough that a seat belt prevented injury.
Still i wear a seatbelt every time i sit in a car.

Unfortunately we do not know when and where we will require a seat belt, just like we cannot know just by looking at it if water is safe to drink.
We can play the odds using some common sense, but still you can't remove every risk in life.

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F - M

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Dirtier water boil longer on 04/19/2014 11:20:51 MDT Print View

"...we cannot know just by looking at it if water is safe to drink."

But we *can* make reasonable assumptions by looking at surrounding conditions.

Turbid water at lower elevations, esp. near livestock areas? Foolish not to treat.

Clear, fast-flowing water at elevation in a wilderness area, and collected very near the source? Drinking without treatment is very low risk.

David Thomas's points about UV purification up-thread imply water within the first few inches of the surface of an alpine lake should also be safe.

I always carry an effective method of treatment, but if conditions suggest the water is very unlikely to be contaminated, I prefer not to treat.

Mark S
(gixer) - F
Re: Re: Dirtier water boil longer on 04/19/2014 12:37:52 MDT Print View

Clear or fast flowing water makes absolutely no difference.

Sure drinking out of a muddy puddle would logically tell us is riskier, but you can and people do get ill from drinking extremely clear, fast flowing water.
Hopefully someone can back me up or call me out here, but i'm sure i read a report that stated well oxygenated water is better for certain water based bacteria/virus?

True or not we are talking microscopic here, you really have absolutely no idea just by looking at the water if it's good or bad.


Don't get me wrong, we all make our own risk assessments in our lives on a ongoing basis, it's up to each of us to weigh up what we perceive to be the risk, form a strategy and act upon it.

My point is us humans tend to only accept the full force of our decisions if something goes wrong.
I'm a prime example, i was extremely cautious to the point of being anal about where i took my water from, i made fun of my mate who was treating and boiling his water, to me then it was a macho thing "look at me i laugh in the face of microscopic bacteria/virus"

I fell extremely hard from my high horse, having been through that i will do what ever is in my power to prevent it again, even IF it's a 1 in a billion chance.

With modern filtering your reducing the chances for no real gain in hassle and very little financial cost, so to me why wouldn't i filter all my water?