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  1. #1

    Default Viruses in the water?

    I was thinking about getting a Steripen to go along with my Sawyer Squeeze as my main source of water purification, however the guy at the outfitter i went to said i don't need a Steripen because there are no viruses in North American Water. That didn't sound right to me, but i figured i would ask, can anyone confirm or deny that statement? Thank you very much.

    Sean

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    The outfitter guy was correct. 99% of people who carry Sawyers don't treat for viruses. Viruses usually jump from human to human, not from deer to human. Luckily there's not much human waste near water sources on the AT. If it helps you sleep better though, a Steripen could be worth it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trailsean View Post
    I was thinking about getting a Steripen to go along with my Sawyer Squeeze as my main source of water purification, however the guy at the outfitter i went to said i don't need a Steripen because there are no viruses in North American Water. That didn't sound right to me, but i figured i would ask, can anyone confirm or deny that statement? Thank you very much.

    Sean
    Everything I've read about the subject says that in American wildlands, viruses aren't a worry. They are a big worry in the developing world.
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailsean View Post
    I was thinking about getting a Steripen to go along with my Sawyer Squeeze as my main source of water purification, however the guy at the outfitter i went to said i don't need a Steripen because there are no viruses in North American Water. That didn't sound right to me......
    That might be true if nobody defecates within 200 feet of a water source and buries their feces at least 6 inches deep, nobody bathes in a water source and so forth. So ask yourself, how reliably will your fellow hikers follow those guidelines and will you bet your health on their compliance?
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailsean View Post
    I was thinking about getting a Steripen to go along with my Sawyer Squeeze as my main source of water purification, however the guy at the outfitter i went to said i don't need a Steripen because there are no viruses in North American Water. That didn't sound right to me, but i figured i would ask, can anyone confirm or deny that statement? Thank you very much.

    Sean
    Everything I have read or been told agrees thst viruses are not a problem in North America. That said, if you think the steri pen looks good, consider getting it in place of the filter, no need to carry both.
    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

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    Registered User swjohnsey's Avatar
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    I just shine my flashlight into the water. It seems to work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TexasBob View Post
    That might be true if nobody defecates within 200 feet of a water source and buries their feces at least 6 inches deep, nobody bathes in a water source and so forth. So ask yourself, how reliably will your fellow hikers follow those guidelines and will you bet your health on their compliance?
    This is a good point, especially near shelters where lots camp. Head upstream a ways if you can.

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    Actually, there are lots of viruses in all surface waters in North America. BUT, the few viruses that infect humans and cause disease (Hepatitis probably being most common) are rarely found in back-country areas. If you are treating water from areas, even in North America, where you expect expose to significant human populations, or even minor amount of human sewage, treating for viruses is wise.

    I think the advice you received above is solid. You don't need both a filter and a steripen along the AT. Either is fine unless you find and then choose to drink some seriously funky water.

    Some people carry a filter and bring along a limited supply of purification tablets as backup and/or as a virus treatment for the rare case, if any, that they are seriously worried about water quality.
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    If I'm not mistaken, and someone definitely correct me if I'm wrong, parasites like cryptosporidium and giardia or bacteria like e. Coli and salmonella are the biggest worries. The only virus that I know of people gatting is norovirus, but while it can be waterborne it's usually passed in other ways.
    And as others said, if you think there's been human contamination of any sort other viruses are much higher risk.

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    A friend of mine got hepatitis as a kid, from drinking out of a creek in Vogel State Park (North Georgia).

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    What about water sources in cattle country, can you get Noro from cattle waste? I saw a few people collecting water in the creek just as you get into Connecticut in the cow pastures. That didn't seem like such a good idea to me as I thought you could be putting yourself at risk.

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    Viruses are extremely species specific, so you pretty much need human waste to be at risk of a viral infection. But, if you are concerned, a couple drops of bleach or any other appropriate chemical treatment into your filtered water and you should be quite safe. FYI: Chemical treatment AFTER filtration can be significantly more effective than chemicals before filtration.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    Viruses are extremely species specific, so you pretty much need human waste to be at risk of a viral infection. But, if you are concerned, a couple drops of bleach or any other appropriate chemical treatment into your filtered water and you should be quite safe. FYI: Chemical treatment AFTER filtration can be significantly more effective than chemicals before filtration.
    founs this on cdc site for a little ways back but think it pretty well summarizes their guidelines:

    http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/pdf/..._Treatment.pdf

    Some peole ive talked to said they found the steripen to be a little unreliable in colder temperatures due to battery / timer related issues. Most double treated their water when in heavily poplulated sections of the trail.

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    Just an FYI, since we're on the discussion

    http://wlos.com/news/local/experts-a...alachian-trail

    Please please please, and I cannot stress enough.
    - Poop at least 200 yards away from a water source.
    - And PLEASE BURY IT at least 6 inches deep.

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    Time to dig the First Need XL out of the closet I guess, that really sucks the greatest danger on the AT is humans.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sunshine8 View Post
    Just an FYI, since we're on the discussion

    http://wlos.com/news/local/experts-a...alachian-trail

    Please please please, and I cannot stress enough.
    - Poop at least 200 yards away from a water source.
    - And PLEASE BURY IT at least 6 inches deep.
    I'm not an expert, but I'd bet that nearly all cases of Noro transmission can be traced back to people not washing their GD hands or practicing basic hygiene. I get angry whenever I see people on the internet telling beginners that the don't need to carry soap while hiking the A.T.

    Edit: It's also disappointing that the article quotes someone recommending using Purell since that isn't an effective way of killing norovirus.
    Last edited by Sarcasm the elf; 03-24-2016 at 14:37.
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    Registered User Water Rat's Avatar
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    I used to be in the category of people who did not filter water on my hikes. I knew what to look for in my water sources and it was all good.

    Unfortunately, on busy trails such as the AT, there are far more people who are new-to-backpacking, or just want to go out and see how nasty they can get (I guarantee this group does not care about YOUR hike). Precautions are a good thing. There is a reason why we were told to wash with soap and water after we went to the bathroom. No, that does not change just because you are in the woods. I make it a point to not trust that new hikers I have just met also have the same level of hygiene standards that I have. This practice has served me well on the trail.

    Can you hike without treating your water? Sure. Others have done it. Just realize you are increasing your odds of catching something from the people who passed through the water source ahead of you. Or, you could just take a few minutes and treat your water and decrease your odds of catching something from the water source.

    It just depends on when & where you are hiking. Given that Noro is an annual event on the AT, I sure wouldn't trust that the water is fine and everyone is practicing good hygiene. That theory doesn't seem to be working out that well for the ones who are currently puking their brains out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by swjohnsey View Post
    I just shine my flashlight into the water. It seems to work.
    I shine my butt in the water, doesn't seem to help.

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