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Pinedale Online > News > July 2006 > Do NOT drink that water! Giardia reminder

Bear Creek waterfall. Photo by Dave Bell.
Bear Creek waterfall
As pristine and pure as this water appears, you're liable to get extremely sick if you drink it without purifying it first. Photo by Dave Bell.
Do NOT drink that water! Giardia reminder
Dave Bell reminds backcountry users to purify their drinking and cooking water
July 14, 2006

Anyone who is a backcountry recreationist knows the warning, "Donít drink the water straight from lakes and streams, no matter how pristine it looks. Always purify your drinking and cooking water." Still, when youíre hiking in the wilderness, havenít seen a human for 3 days, and are next to a snow-bank-fed mountain stream, itís hard to believe the water isnít as pure as can be.

Itís not. The danger of becoming extremely ill from drinking the water is very real and you may regret taking that drink forever if you get nailed by one of the water-born parasites that can cause serious illness.

Just ask Dave Bell.

He hates to admit it to everyone out there, but feels the reminder is so important to give to anyone who thinks they can dodge fate and take one tiny sip, that he is admitting he got hit by Giardia and is now very sick and paying the price.

"I made a mistake on Saturday, over in the Salt River Range, and drank from a mountain stream. It resulted in Giardia for me, and what a terrible miserable sickness that is. I have lost 10 pounds (that is not all bad) in the week, and really can't venture too far from the house, if you know what I mean. I don't want to be the poster boy for Giardia (imagine that picture), but an article on Giardia, how easy it is to get (one drink), how sick you get, etc, would be a good story. It is a messy, kinda not very nice thing to talk about, but, man, I can testify, and will I guess, to how sick I have been and miserable."

Dave gives this reminder, 'People need to buy a filter. Rex (Great Outdoor Shop, www.greatoutdoorshop.com) has an excellent selection, and then use it. I was desperate for water, grabbed some from a small stream, and that is where it all started. It is a pristine area, no traffic, I was high up the valley and thought, oh, this is safe. Well, that was a mistake. Never again."

From the Center for Disease Control website: Giardiasis (GEE-are-DYE-uh-sis) is a diarrheal illness caused by a one-celled, microscopic parasite, Giardia intestinalis (also known as Giardia lamblia). Once an animal or person has been infected with Giardia intestinalis, the parasite lives in the intestine and is passed in the stool. Because the parasite is protected by an outer shell, it can survive outside the body and in the environment for long periods of time. During the past 2 decades, Giardiainfection has become recognized as one of the most common causes of waterborne disease (found in both drinking and recreational water) in humans in the United States. Giardia are found worldwide and within every region of the United States.

The Giardia parasite lives in the intestine of infected humans or animals. Millions of germs can be released in a bowel movement from an infected human or animal. Giardia is found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces from infected humans or animals.

1. Do not swallow recreational water.
2. Do not drink untreated water from shallow wells, lakes, rivers, springs, ponds, and streams.

More Information:
Center For Disease Control (CDC) Ė Giardia



Related Links
  • Dave Bell Photo Gallery - Scenic pictures of the area
  • www.davebellphotos.com - Dave Bell's website
  • Pinedale Online > News > July 2006 > Do NOT drink that water! Giardia reminder

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