Giardia and Crypto

I was filtering water on a recent trip and thought…

Why do I think that Giardia and Crypto are universally spread throughout the lake?

Fish aren’t! Muck isn’t! Even engine oil and gas is missing in some places and thick in others!

So why not the same for these bugs?

Surely there should be areas where G&C are thicker and areas where they are missing?

Anyone have an idea of how to find this info?

few things
I’m no scientist, but I would assume that germ contaminates are most likely found where mammals use the water. In a lake with a dam and multiple streams feeding it, it seems possible you could find them anywhere.

Ryan L.

Giardia cysts fare worse
in cold water. Mixing the water as in an expanse of open water would dilute the critters.

Stagnant warm water is a primo happy site for the beasties.

Most non filterers dip from the middle of the lake where Nature gives a bit of her own SteriPen treatment.

A boggy quiet area…well animals do poop there too. Humans sometimes too and they are the prime vector for giardia.

Didn’t look up crypto.

Why risk it?
Have you ever been sick due to drinking un-filtered water? It ain’t fun.

I know a guy who got a Giardia infection
on the AT.He was at trail weight(as in no fat left) and lost 10 more lbs. and 10 days. Said the cure was almost as bad as the infection.

Why chance it?

Filter, filter, filter and then boil

– Last Updated: Dec-28-12 8:54 PM EST –

I have been sick from a drop of bad water getting
in my mouth when rafting the Gauley River.

EXTREME nauseousness, pain, cramping and it doesn't
go away, hour after hour of it, relentless.
Go to hospital, they'll give you "nothing at all"
in the beginning because they want to check you out.
Pain, cramps, nauseousness, continue to relent.
Now it's about 24 hours and you're in agony.

After hospital figures it all out you get 2 choices.
Two choices, 3 times a day for about 7 days in hospital.
Beef broth or Chicken broth - that's it.
You'll loose a ton of weight and feel awful the whole time.

Get a very good filter - protect it with your life.
Use an extra screen like a coffee filter on intake.
Boil that water you pumped and protect your body.

Yeah, it's that bad ! No jokes, no kidding.

They aren’t evenly dispersed
Unfortunately, you can not accurately tell how they are dispersed unless you test water from different areas. By the time you do this a population of them could have drifted into an area you just tested.

Incubation 1-45 days
Its not fatal. But the dehydration from losing fluid from multiple orifices can be.

Researching is kind of fun and explains why I can drink from my lake with no treatment. The water pipe runs into the lake from my house.

Never had anything other than lake water or well water.

Falls again under the category of anecdotal information as do all the other posts.

Wash your hands on trips as you would at home.Do you? Giardia’s primary transmission vector is you.

Present here on the Upper Delaware
In my case, I got flew-like symptoms and intestinal discomfort all summer. I guess I got away easy.


– Last Updated: Dec-29-12 12:56 PM EST –

Ain't dat some guy wit a billy club watchin' over de crooks in some I-ta-leen-ian jail? An' shazam, in me yoot ah's always listened ta Tales Fro' De Crypto on de crystal wireless. Didn't reckon yer cood git de gizzard uproars wit dat!


Varying degrees?
Are their different levels of giardia you can get?

I ask because after a friend ran a horrible 1/2 marathon and thought it was the flu but the correct diagnosis was giardia. Apparently some water was swallowed during a tri that was in a less than pristine lake.

Worth the pennies

– Last Updated: Dec-29-12 3:55 PM EST –

When I'm solo in the backcountry far from society;
I go with Katadyn and boil the water afterwards.
Simply not worth the risk to me.....
I also hate the taste of "purifier" chemical additives.

Easy cure

– Last Updated: Dec-31-12 12:43 PM EST –

I had Giardia a few years back. Probably got it from my grandchildren who picked it up in their nursery school. I went around with it for about a month while gulping a lot of Imodium which did not put a dent in it. I was finally referred to a GI specialist who recognized it and diagnosed it with a lab test. The cure was actually easy and effective, three horse pills and it was all gone. I don't recall the name of the medication but do recall that it had come from Europe and was just recently approved in the U.S.

I don't recommend it for weight loss, but it is effective. I lost 20 lbs during the ordeal.


If you’re bringing the filter…
…then it’d be foolish to not use it, no matter where in the lake or river you are. Water moves around.

Giardia is known to be in all 50 of the United States. I suspect I had it one time, and the illness took a full month to leave me feeling halfway normal. If you don’t want to filter, you should boil the water. You will need to boil it for a certain amount of time (I forget what it is), not just bring it to a boil.

Beware one thing about crypto: Iodine does NOT kill cryptosporidia organisms. In 1999 my husband and I were car-camping and mountain biking in southwestern CO. The first and second nights, we camped at a campground with well water. The water gushed out silty and ruddy-colored, with the strong and distinctive taste and odor of iodine. The area had received abnormally high rainfall the weeks before we arrived. We drank that well-water, unfiltered. After a day or two, we both felt nauseous. Did not make the connection at the time. There’s a photo of me taken on the trail looking pale and slightly green. The sick feeling did not go away for at least a week afterward. I later read that iodine is ineffective at killing cryptosporidia. The well-water must’ve been contaminated.

It’s not worth skipping the effort to filter your water.

Seems to me no one has an answer
to the original question, which was not about the need to filter water but rather is there a pattern of distribution of cryptospiridium and giardia.

I maintain there is from what amateur research I have been able to do. Whether or not I have had it is of less interest. (and I have from Mexico in unsanitary conditions, not on a trip)

Patterns in nature

– Last Updated: Dec-30-12 1:15 AM EST –

Where ever the wind blows the water, the animals
stir it and the water fowl mix it around, it will
be there when you want to drink.

C'mon now we are talking microns - Microscope City.
Protozoa include Entamoeba, Giardia, Trichomonas,
Cryptosporidium, Isospora, Pneumocystis and Balantidium.
There are two diagnostic life-cycle stages commonly
seen in parasites - the cyst and the adult trophozoite stage.

I have personal
opinions but zero scientific research to back them up and I would never suggest anyone else should alter their conduct based on my opinions. It would be good if there were some studies done. But, in the meantime, I am keeping my opinions to myself. Suffice it to say, I have been at this for 40 years, my experience is all in the northern united states and northern canada. I have never filtered, boiled or otherwise treated water. I have never been sick as a result of water consumed on a trip. I have been sick from other causes.

where you get water

– Last Updated: Dec-30-12 10:21 AM EST –

Has much to do with its cleanliness. High stream with little chance of mammals, and a spring at the source, probably ok. Low land lake with human waste present, higher chance. Filtering and boiling seems a little unnecessary for most water sources, unless you are worried about viruses, but running through a filter isn't a huge hassle. A uv treatment couldnt hurt either. As with most food and water diseases, cross contamination is your real worry.

Ryan L.

What about the animals?
How is it that animals can drink from just about anything and not be bothered? Do they develop an immunity, or a tolerance?

Here are some answers to the OP